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Thursday, 21 April 1983
Page: 46


Mr COHEN (Minister for Home Affairs and Environment)(7.59) —I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

First, Mr Speaker, perhaps I may take this opportunity of congratulating you on your elevation to the position of Speaker. The World Heritage Properties Conservation Bill makes provision for the protection and conservation of those places in Australia or under Australian control that are of such outstanding universal value that they are recognised as part of the cultural or natural heritage of the world. The Bill therefore shares the objective of the World Heritage Properties Protection Bill 1982 that was introduced in the Senate last year by the Australian Democrats. As I shall explain, the purpose of the Bill is not to exclude or replace other laws that are effective to protect such property . It is designed to provide protection only where property of universal value is being or is likely to be damaged or destroyed. I shall deal first with the general background to this legislation; then I shall explain the approach taken in the Bill; and, finally, I shall refer to the present prospect of damage to the South West Tasmania World Heritage area.

For many years, and particularly since the end of the Second World War, there has been growing international awareness of heritage values and a sense of concern and shared responsibility for the protection of the cultural and natural heritage. Many specific examples could be given of this sense of concern, and of Australia's own involvement in it. Australia has expressed its own commitment to heritage values, and to the need to conserve heritage in Australia, under successive governments. One of the most important international instruments in this field is the treaty known as the World Heritage Convention, which is the Schedule to the Bill and which I shall refer to here as 'the Convention'. Its full title is the Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage. The Convention entered into force in 1975, and Australia was one of the first parties to it.

It is important to bear in mind that the Convention is not a solitary example of international concern and co-operation in the heritage conservation area. There are many other such examples, including instances of international co- operation directed to the saving of particular sites, such as the temples of Borobudur in Indonesia and the city of Venice. The preamble to the Convention notes that the deterioration or disappearance of any item of the cultural or natural heritage constitutes a harmful impoverishment of the heritage of all the nations of the world. It refers to the importance, for all the peoples of the world, of safeguarding cultural and natural property, notwithstanding that it may belong to a particular people. In addition to the obligations that the Convention places on individual parties, it provides a system for identifying the world's natural and cultural heritage, and a system of collective protection for items of that heritage that may be in danger. The Convention recognises that it is primarily the duty of the country where heritage property is situated to ensure its identification, protection, conservation, presentation and transmission to future generations.

The World Heritage Committee established by the Convention consists of representatives of 21 parties. It is responsible for the administration of the system of international assistance and co-operation set up by the Convention. The Convention provides for the nomination or submission by a party to the Convention of property in its territory that is suitable for inclusion in the World Heritage List. The World Heritage List is not to contain all heritage property within a country, but only heritage property that has outstanding universal value in terms of criteria established by the World Heritage Committee . The World Heritage List is, therefore-


Mr Tuckey —And wins the Labor Party some votes. You have sold out to the greenies.


Mr COHEN —The honourable member for O'Connor should go back to bashing Aborigines. That is what you are good at. The World Heritage List is, therefore- -


Mr Tuckey —Mr Deputy Speaker, I take a point of order. I ask for that remark to be withdrawn. It is quite out of order.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. Les Johnson) —Order! The honourable member will resume his seat. I ask the Minister to withdraw that remark.


Mr COHEN —Mr Deputy Speaker, I withdraw. The World Heritage List is, therefore, a short list of heritage property of special value. A further list-the list of World Heritage--


Mr Tuckey —Mr Deputy Speaker, I take a point of order. I did not hear him withdraw.


Mr COHEN —No wonder. You are not only stupid, you are deaf, too.


Mr Tuckey —I have also been called stupid now.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member will resume his seat. The Minister has withdrawn the remark. I call the Minister.


Mr COHEN —The World Heritage List is, therefore, a short list--


Mr Newman —Mr Deputy Speaker, I take a point of order. The minister may have withdrawn, but he was making remarks under his breath. This is a most important matter and a matter that concerns Tasmania. We have been blocked from having any debate on the matter. The Minister has started to laugh about it. He should go to Tasmania and do something about it. This Government is a disgrace.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! There is no point of order. The honourable member will resume his seat. I call the Minister.


Mr COHEN —Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. I will start again. The World Heritage List is, therefore, a short list of heritage property of special value. A further list-the List of World Heritage in Danger-may contain property appearing in the World Heritage List for the conservation of which major operations are necessary and for which assistance has been requested under the Convention. The system of assistance established by the Convention is available in respect of property that the World Heritage Committee has decided to enter in the World Heritage List.

I now mention some practical details. Seventy-two countries have become parties to the Convention, including the United States and most countries of Western Europe. Many developing countries have also ratified the Convention. Only one hundred and thirty-six properties are on the World Heritage List. These include both cultural heritage, such as temples and other buildings, and natural heritage such as wilderness areas or other natural features. Among the world famous and significant natural areas on the List are the Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Canyon in the United States of America, Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, Sagamartha National Park-which contains Mount Everest-in Nepal and Australia's own Great Barrier Reef.

In all, five Australian sites have been nominated by Australia and found to satisfy the tests for inclusion in the World Heritage List. I will detail them. The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest and most complex expanse of living coral reefs, encompassing a great variety of marine life. There are over 1,500 species of fish and about 400 species of coral. Its great diversity of life forms makes it an area of enormous scientific importance. Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory is an area of over 6,000 square kilometres containing an unusual variety of vegetation, while most of its fauna is rare elsewhere in Australia. Quite apart from its natural heritage value, the Park is of great importance, internationally and to Australia, because of the antiquity and quality of its archaeology and Aboriginal cultural and art sites. The Willandra Lakes region is a system of dried-up lakes in far western New South Wales. Their outstanding universal value lies in the evidence they provide of human occupation dating back more than 30,000 years.


Mr Goodluck —Where is the man who is going to bring us together-the conciliator?


Mr COHEN —The honourable member should crawl back into an apple, for God's sake.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. Les Johnson) —Order! The House will come to order.


Mr COHEN —Skeletal remains found there are among the oldest evidence of homo sapiens anywhere in the world and establish the great antiquity of Aboriginal man in Australia. The Willandra Lakes evidence is also important because it enables a reconstruction of the economic life of early modern man, showing a remarkable adaptation to local resources and the interaction between culture and the changing environment. The Lord Howe Island group has not only exceptional beauty but also an enormous diversity of landscapes. Because of the high proportion of endemic animals and plants, Lord Howe Island provides an outstanding example of independent evolutionary processes and is of great scientific and conservation interest. The islands include the most southerly coral reef in the world and provide, on the peaks of the main island, the habitat of one of the world's rarest birds, the Lord Howe Island Woodhen. The Western Tasmanian wilderness national parks of some 769,000 hectares together cover a large part of one of the last remaining temperate wilderness areas in the world, and have many features of unique significance, to which I shall refer later.


Mr Newman —What would you know about it?


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! Honourable members will restrain themselves.


Mr Goodluck —This is disgraceful.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —The House will come to order.


Mr Goodluck —Point of order.


Mr Leo McLeay —Sit down, you twerp.


Mr Goodluck —Yes, you can call me a twerp. You hate Tasmania, the lot of you.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! I call the Minister.


Mr COHEN —Although the identifications of heritage property by Australia are made within the Convention framework to discharge obligations under the Convention--


Mr Newman —I raise a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. Members opposite were having a go at my colleague from Franklin and they should apologise. This is a serious matter. You fellows have never even been down there. This is one of the most important constitutional matters ever before this House. The Leader of the House--


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member will resume his seat.


Mr Newman —The Leader of the House promised that he would bring into this House the regulation. Where is it?


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member will resume his seat.


Mr Newman —You are a liar, you don't even keep your promises.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! There is no point of order. I remind honourable members that it is out of order to take such frivolous action.


Mr Newman —That's not the case. Here is the telegram that he promised. I will read it.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —I ask the honourable member to resume his seat.


Mr Newman —This is a most important issue.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —I ask the honourable member to resume his seat. I will not tolerate defiance.


Mr Groom —Mr Deputy Speaker, we demand the right to debate this issue tonight.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! There is no point of order. I call the Minister.


Mr COHEN —This is an obvious attempt to get their names in the paper tomorrow.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! I ask the Minister to resume the debate.


Mr COHEN —Although the identifications of heritage property by Australia are made within the Convention framework-to discharge obligations under the Convention and to enjoy its benefits-this action has several aspects. It focusses awareness on the unique values of the properties concerned and thereby helps to foster concern for their conservation. It draws the attention of the world to the important natural and cultural heritage in Australia, the richness of which can rival that of other regions. This enhances the attraction of these sites to tourists and other visitors from overseas. The prestige of World Heritage Listing is also a source of pride for Australians. Indeed, these are properties which belong to all Australians, who bear a responsibility to the rest of the world for the safeguarding of them.

In world heritage matters, Australia has so far played a responsible and even prominent role. It has freely acknowledged its responsibilities in this area. In 1981 the former Prime Minister opened the Fifth Meeting of the World Heritage Committee in Sydney. He gave an address entitled 'Australia's Heritage' in which he referred to the Convention as 'an important milestone in the modern history of man's concern not only for his environment, but also for his cultural roots and origins'. He said that 'the concept of world heritage, which includes both the cultural and natural heritage of mankind, and which means that individual nations will hold sites and properties of universal value in trust not just for their own peoples, but for the whole of mankind, is surely a profound expression of co-operation between people and a willingness to share'. The speech went on to describe in glowing terms the ways in which Australia had shown 'its awareness of the need for initiative and action on matters of conservation and the environment'. It concluded by referring to the Committee's task 'in co- operation with the countries of the world . . . of trying to make sure that universally valuable sites and properties from all countries, not just the wealthy and well-provided countries, can find a secure place on the World Heritage List'. I do not quote those words in a critical way. Indeed, I applaud them. They are the words of the former Prime Minister. They are directly relevant to the purpose of this Bill. In the past, Australia has clearly articulated its national responsibilities for protecting the heritage. It is a responsibility that cannot now be avoided, and which this Bill seeks to discharge.

I now turn to describe the approach to heritage protection taken in the Bill. I do not contend that in all circumstances, and in relation to all kinds of heritage property, the only way, or the most appropriate way, to achieve the protection of heritage property is by Commonwealth legislation. A property might never be under threat, or a threat might not be capable of being countered by legislation. Another possibility is that the property might be on Commonwealth land or otherwise adequately controlled. A further possibility is that State law or State measures will be adequate. I want to stress at this point the importance we attach to State and Territory co-operation in this area. Nominations by Australia to the--


Mr Hodgman —Sending in RAAF-that is the way you treat it.


Mr COHEN —You will not upset me; I have been here and listened to bigger thugs than you. So I can take it. If you want to be here all night, it is all right with me.


Mr SPEAKER —Order! I hope that the House will come to order. It is obvious that we have before the House a matter that is a subject of some passion. The procedures of the House have been followed, as it is the duty of the Chair to see that they are followed. I ask honourable members who feel passionately about it to observe proper behaviour in the House. I ask the Minister not to provoke them.


Mr COHEN —Mr Speaker, I am not the one who is interjecting.


Mr SPEAKER —Order! The Minister--


Mr Hodgman —He called me a thug, and if that is not provocative I do not know what is.


Mr SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member will resume his seat.


Mr Goodluck —I take a point of order, Mr Speaker. With the greatest of respect to you, sir-and I have respect for you-you have asked us to withdraw and keep quiet and not show emotion and passion. Unfortunately we have to show emotion and passion tonight, and as a consequence we will offend you. We do not wish to offend you but we will, because we feel strongly about this issue.


Mr SPEAKER —Order! There is no point of order. I did not ask honourable members not to show emotion and passion. I asked them to keep within reasonable bounds. I also ask the Minister, if that term was used, to withdraw it.


Mr COHEN —I withdraw. I should also like honourable members to stop interjecting so that I may get on with my speech.


Mr SPEAKER —I have already asked honourable members to do that.


Mr COHEN —I will repeat what I said. I want to stress at this point the importance we attach to State and Territory co-operation in this area. Nominations by Australia to the World Heritage List have been made in a spirit of co-operation with State authorities. State laws relating to national parks, conservation and heritage protection might well afford a suitable means of meeting any threat to property that might exist.

Opposition members interjecting-


Mr SPEAKER —Order! I think I have given honourable members a reasonable chance. I suspect that they may want me to take certain action. I certainly will not resile from taking action if this sort of behaviour persists.


Mr COHEN —Given a commitment by a State Government to heritage protection and an awareness by the State of the international importance of such protection, the Commonwealth Government would foresee no need to exercise its own powers. This Bill is to provide a means of protection of last resort. Its provisions are to be invoked when it appears that other means are not available or are inadequate or unsuitable to meet a threat of damage or destruction to heritage property. It is the Government's intention that the procedures under the Bill would not be resorted to if effective action can and will be taken under State or Territory law. It follows that there would normally be consultation with the State or Territory.


Mr Newman —Why not in this case?


Mr COHEN —We did consult with the States, as the honourable member would know if he had been following what has been happening in the last three or four weeks.

The scheme of the Bill is as follows: The Bill applies to property satisfying two tests. It must answer the description of cultural heritage or natural heritage within the meaning of the Convention-I draw honourable members' attention to Articles 1 and 2 of the Convention-and Australia must have identified it as such, either by its nomination for the World Heritage List or by the making of regulations which so identify it. Provision has been made for the regulations to do this as Australia could have obligations under the Convention in respect of items that have not been nominated. Before the protective provisions in clauses 9, 10 or 11 apply to any 'identified property', a proclamation must be made under clauses 6, 7 or 8. Before such a proclamation can be made, the Governor-General in Council must be satisfied that the property is being, or is likely to be, damaged or destroyed. In the Bill, a reference to damage to or destruction of property includes a reference to damage to or destruction of a particular part of a feature of the property.

The Bill is drafted to draw on all heads of Commonwealth legislative powers that may appropriately be used. The way in which this has been done is briefly outlined in the explanatory memorandum. I draw particular attention to the use of the 'race' power in clauses 8 and 11 of the Bill. This is an appropriate exercise of the power since much of Australia's distinctive heritage of universal value consists of relics of Aboriginal culture. Three of the sites that Australia has already nominated to the World Heritage List are of great importance in this regard. Kakadu National Park consists mainly of Aboriginal land. The significance of Kakadu to Aborigines today is intense, and is evidenced in the offer of their land to the nation so that it could become a truly national park. This significance is also evidenced in the concern shown by traditional Aboriginal owners about the art, archaeological and sacred sites in the Park, and their instructions to the Parks Service for the protective management of their spiritual and cultural heritage. Willandra Lakes Region provides evidence of the great antiquity of Australian Aborigines, and the discoveries have established the richness of Aboriginal culture and have caused a significant reassessment of Aboriginal prehistory and its place in the history of modern man.

It has not been possible in the drafting of the Bill to specify, in clauses 9, 10 and 11, a complete list of acts that might need to be prohibited to protect properties in danger. Each of these clauses, therefore, also prohibits acts that are prescribed by regulations for the purpose in relation to the particular property to which each clause relates. At the same time, the acts prohibited by the Bill are not made offences. Should the legislation raise contentious issues needing to be considered by a court, including constitutional issues, these may more conveniently be dealt with under the procedure provided by clause 14-that is, on an application for an injunction restraining a person from doing an act made unlawful by the Bill.

I draw the attention of the House to clause 15 of the Bill which provides for the tabling in each House of Parliament of any proclamation made under clauses 6 , 7 or 8 of the Bill. A proclamation is subject to disapproval by either House of Parliament. This is a similar procedure to that applying to regulations made under an Act, but here the period for tabling has been shortened from 15 to five sitting days.

Clause 16 of the Bill makes provision for compensation in the event that the operation of the Bill, or the operation of the World Heritage (Western Tasmania Wilderness) Regulations, results in an 'acquisition of property' from any person within the meaning of section 51 (xxxi) of the Constitution. It is not unusual practice for provision to meet the requirements of section 51 (xxxi) to be included in a Bill that could result in an 'acquisition of property' in the constitutional sense. Clause 16 is unusual in that it provides a detailed procedure for the investigation of what compensation, if any, might be payable in the event of a very large claim-$5m or more. The reason for this provision is that, because there is unlikely to be a direct acquisition of property of a readily ascertainable market value, an investigatory procedure before a special commission is likely to be more appropriate than proceedings before a court. However, there is provision for recourse to a court in the event that a claimant is unsatisfied at the end of the investigatory procedure or where a claim is for less than $5m.

Mr Speaker, I now turn to the specific issue of the proposed construction of the Gordon below Franklin dam in South West Tasmania. There is no question that this project, if allowed to be completed, would destroy a significant part of the heritage value of the Western Tasmania Wilderness National Parks, a property that was nominated by Australia for inclusion in the World Heritage List and accepted for inclusion in that list.

While this Bill is not aimed solely at the protection of that particular property, it is the inability of the Commonwealth Government to prevent the substantial destruction of the property by any other means that has led to the introduction of this Bill as one of the first parliamentary acts of the Government. In doing this, the Government is fulfilling a commitment given to the people of Australia and is supported by the overwhelming majority of the Australian people. The legal situation that has arisen in relation to the dam illustrates, in a striking way, the need for this legislation and what is at stake in the whole debate over natural and cultural values.

The nomination of the Western Tasmania Wilderness National Parks was submitted by the Australian Government to the World Heritage Committee, at the request of the Government of Tasmania, in November 1981. The nomination that was prepared by Tasmania is an impressive document that draws attention to the unique features of the property. Under the heading 'Justification for Inclusion in the World Heritage List', the nomination refers to Fraser Cave-now Kutikina Cave-as one of the six archaeologically richest limestone caves sites in the Western Pacific. The unique value of this and other caves in the area has been acclaimed by eminent experts from other countries. Important sites continue to be discovered in South West Tasmania and, indeed, as I announced only two days ago, a significant new archaeological site has been discovered recently in the Franklin River Valley. The site has been named Deena Reena and is just as important as, if not more important than, the abundantly rich Kutikina Cave.

The nomination also referred to the area as comprising 'most of the last great temperate wilderness remaining in Australia and one of the last remaining in the world'. The nomination claimed that the region satisfied all four criteria required for the nomination to the World Heritage List. It claimed that it has many geological sites of local, State, national and international significance and unique, rare and superb natural features and areas of exceptional natural beauty. It asserted that 'virtually all other areas in the temperate zone have been so substantially modified by man that their pristine wilderness characteristics have been destroyed'. The nomination gave a list of rare and endangered endemic plants which occur there and stated that the area was one of great importance for the conservation of Australian fauna.

The nomination came before the World Heritage Committee last December. Representatives of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, IUCN, and the International Council on Monuments and Sites, ICOMOS, expressed their views that the nominated areas satisfied all relevant criteria and were suitable for inclusion in the World Heritage List. These are the two expert bodies which advise the World Heritage Committee on nominations. The ICOMOS representative made particular reference to the prehistoric cave sites which, he said, had been reported as making the area as significant as the great cave sites of southern France. He referred also to a report that an expedition to South West Tasmania in 1981 had collected some 4,000 specimens of invertebrates of which 25 per cent were new to science. The World Heritage Committee had before it reports at the proposals for dam construction in the area. Members of the Committee expressed strong concern at the probable loss of the heritage value of the nominated area if the dam were built.


Mr Newman —I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.


Mr COHEN —In the result the Commitee decided to include the Western Tasmania Wilderness National Parks-


Mr Newman —Mr Speaker, this speech by this Minister is full of the most devastating lies I have ever heard a Minister give in this place.


Mr SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member for Bass should withdraw those terms.


Mr Newman —Mr Speaker, this document is full of lies. He is producing those lies .


Mr SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member for Bass will withdraw those terms.


Mr Newman —I will not.


Mr Goodluck —I support what my colleague has said.


Mr SPEAKER —Order! In the circumstances of the day I asked the honourable member for Bass to withdraw the terms which he used which he knows are unparliamentary. I ask him to withdraw.


Mr Newman —They may be unparliamentary, Mr Speaker, but they happen to be true.


Mr SPEAKER —I ask him to withdraw.


Mr Newman —I will not.


Mr SPEAKER —I have no alternative then but to meet the honourable member's wishes and name him.


Mr Young —Mr Speaker, it is not my desire to move the necessary motion. This is the first day of this Parliament.


Mr McVeigh —Why didn't you let us ask questions then?


Mr Young —Because the honourable member has not asked questions for the 20 years he was running the Parliament. I know that honourable members from Tasmania have strong feelings on this issue but I think it would be a disgrace to the Parliament if I were forced to move the motion which would put the Speaker elected on the first day in a very difficult position. He has to keep decorum in the House. I ask the honourable member to give second thoughts to the request made of him by the Speaker. Perhaps if he wants to interject he could use strong terms but not terms which force the Speaker and me into a position which would turn the first day of Parliament into a fiasco. I ask the honourable member to give second thoughts to that request put to him by the Speaker.


Mr Newman —Mr Speaker, may I respond to that? The position is that honourable members from Tasmania went to the Prime Minister and asked for an assurance that the regulation, which is instrumental in stopping the dam, would be tabled. Then , we could move a motion to disallow that regulation which would result in a debate and scrutiny of what the Government is doing. The Leader of the Government-I do not know whether he meant it or not-sent a telegram to us. It gave an assurance that the Clerk would table this regulation. That has not happened. The Government misled us. That is the reason why we are so upset tonight. It was something that we expected to happen.


Mr Young —I assure the honourable member that there will be no shortage of debate on this matter in the House. We are having a one-day sitting. When the House resumes honourable members will have plenty of time to debate this matter. Nothing will happen between now and 3 May in relation to this Bill. The Bill will sit there. All I am doing is asking the honourable member not to place the Speaker in the predicament in which he is now placed by virtue of the honourable member's use of unparliamentary language. I think the Parliament would be better off if he accepted the offer I made to him.


Mr Newman —Mr Speaker, the problem is-


Mr SPEAKER —Order!


Mr Newman —I seek leave to explain.


Mr SPEAKER —I have some problems beause the Minister's time is expiring. I think he needs to complete it.


Mr Young —I do not think there is a need to-

Motion (by Mr Sinclair) proposed:

That the Minister be granted an extension of time.


Mr SPEAKER —It has been moved that the Minister be granted an extension of time.


Mr Young —The honourable member is placing the House in a very silly position on the first day. The honourable member has been here long enough to know that. There may be some publicity in-


Mr Goodluck —We are not looking for publicity.


Mr Young —I am not talking about individual publicity. I am talking about publicity for this Parliament because the only thing that will be recorded out of this incident-


Mr SPEAKER —Order! I think the Leader of the House has made his point. In the circumstances and in view of what he has said I will not proceed with the naming of the honourable member. I will accept the motion for an extension of time for the Minister because I have allowed some indulgence.

Extension of time granted.


Mr COHEN —Members of the Committee expressed strong concern at the possible loss of the heritage value of the nominated area if the dam were built. In the result , the Committee decided to include the Western Tasmania Wilderness National Parks in the World Heritage List. However, in so doing it adopted a statement expressing its concern at the likely effect of dam construction on those natural and cultural characteristics which made the property of outstanding universal value. The Committee recommended that the Australian authorities take all possible measures to protect the integrity of the property.

The House will be well aware of the attitude of the present Government in Tasmania to the construction of the dam. That Government has adopted an attitude which sets at nothing the irreplaceable heritage value of the area and which ignores Australia's international responsibilities in the matter. That Government had, of course, sought the withdrawal of the nomination of the property after Australia had already put forward the nomination at Tasmania's request and so identified it to the world as having the oustanding universal values that makes it part of the world cultural and natural heritage. Even if a withdrawal of the nomination could have removed or reduced Australia's responsibilities in the matter, such a withdrawal would have amounted to a blatant denial of the principles enshrined in the World Heritage Convention. It is to the credit of the previous Government that it did not take the course suggested by Tasmania and adopted an attitude consistent with Australia's responsible guardianship of the area. On 30 March 1983 the Commonwealth Government made the World Heritage (Western Tasmania Wilderness) Regulations as an exercise of the legal powers then available to it to prevent construction of the dam. As the House will be aware, measures to enforce those regulations and the question of the validity of the regulations are matters that are now before the High Court.

Mr Speaker, it would be hard to imagine a stronger cause for the enactment of Commonwealth legislation in this internationally important area of heritage protection than has now arisen in relation to South West Tasmania. Australia has sought international recognition of the value of the area and the prestige and publicity which flow from World Heritage listing. It has taken steps to make the property eligible for international assistance. At the same time, a State government, following the request by the State itself for nomination of the property now seeks to destroy some of its most important features. The intransigence of the Tasmanian Government in persisting with its plans for the dam has flown in the face of great concern, even outrage, both here and overseas at the impact of the dam on the area. Not only international organisations and world-renowned scientists and scholars, such as Sir Peter Scott, have protested but also public personalities such as Yehudi Menuhin, David Bellamy, who is also an eminent botanist, and a certain Mr Spike Milligan, the son of a constituent of mine, have combined with one voice to condemn this action by the Tasmanian Government. There is no prospect of saving the property by appealing to the Tasmanian Government or by further consultation. Commonwealth legislation, as a matter of last resort, is the only responsible course. When the Bill is passed it is the intention of the Government to seek to have made proclamations under its provisions for the purpose of protecting and conserving the Western Tasmania Wilderness National Parks, if, after the entry into force of the Act, the circumstances make that course necessary.

Debate (on motion by Mr Connolly) adjourned.


Mr SPEAKER —I call the honourable member for Braddon.