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Monday, 7 February 1994
Page: 500

(Question No. 838)

Senator Coulter asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment, Sport and Territories, upon notice, on 1 December 1993:

  (1) What was the cost, in net present value, of assessment for each of the areas inscribed on the World Heritage List.

  (2) How many months were taken up by the assessment process for each of the areas inscribed on the World Heritage List.

  (3)(a) Has a desk-top study ever been carried out to assess the World Heritage values of any particular area in Australia; if so, were the desk-top studies sufficient to mount a successful nomination to the World Heritage Bureau, or were other additional studies carried out; and (b) if desk-top studies were sufficient, which areas were nominated successfully on the basis of desk-top studies only.

  (4) Is the Minister committed to the nomination of the South Australian section of the Lake Eyre Basin.

Senator Richardson —The Minister for the Environment, Sport and Territories has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

  (1) and (2) The assessment of an area in the lead up to its inscription on the World Heritage List is not a simple process, the full cost of which could easily be traced. With respect to the ten Australian properties already inscribed on the List, typically, several Commonwealth Government agencies and sometimes one or more State Government agencies have been involved in the assessment process associated with preparing the nomination. Often these assessments draw on the results of earlier assessments of scientific and heritage values undertaken separately by Commonwealth or State agencies or research institutions.

  After the property has been nominated, the international World Heritage Bureau arranges for an independent assessment of the nominated place by sending an international assessor to Australia. Again, one or more Australian agencies may contribute to the in-country costs of this process, the other costs being met by the international body conducting the assessment, i.e. the International Council for Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) or the World Conservation Union (IUCN). The total assessment process normally takes about two years and often spans three Australian financial years.

  Australia has had properties inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1981 (three properties), 1982 (two properties), 1986, 1987, 1988, 1991 and 1992, with extensions to existing World Heritage properties inscribed in 1987, 1989 and 1992.

  I am not prepared to ask all the agencies that have been involved in any of these assessments to search their archives to obtain the information to answer parts (1) and (2) of this question. The cost of doing so would be prohibitive.

  (3)(a) Yes; yes. Desk-top studies were sufficient in cases where the necessary assessments had been conducted for other purposes. (b) The Great Barrier Reef; Kakadu National Park (Stage 1); Lord Howe Island.

  (4) The Minister is committed to determining whether there are areas of the South Australian section of the Lake Eyre Basin that are of World Heritage value. Funds have been set aside this financial year to conduct this determination. If such area(s) are identified, Australia, as a Party to the Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (the `World Heritage Convention'), will accept the duty of ensuring the protection, conservation, presentation and transmission to future generations of such area(s). In keeping with the Intergovernmental Agreement on the Environment (May 1992), the Commonwealth will consult the State and endeavour to obtain the State's agreement to place such area(s) on an indicative list of World Heritage properties as this step is an essential prerequisite to nomination if cultural values are involved. The process is not yet sufficiently far advanced for the Minister to make a firm commitment to lodge a nomination.