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Thursday, 17 May 1973
Page: 2263

Mr WHITLAM (Werriwa) (Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs) - by leave - I wish to inform the House that Mr Justice Hope of the Court of Appeal Division of the Supreme Court of New South Wales has agreed to act as chairman of the Government's proposed task force on the national estate. It is expected that the work of the task force will be conducted by a committee of 7, with a permanent secretariat supplied by the Department of Urban and Regional Development and the Department of the Environment and Conservation. The Committee will advertise for submissions and hold public hearings in the States. The work of the Committee is expected to take several months. The Government has begun discussions with several prominent people with varying talents suitable for the work of the inquiry. The Government expects to be able to announce full details early next week- probably on Tuesday afternoon. In Mr Justice Hope we shall have a chairman of great capacity and experience and with a sympathetic understanding of the problems the task force will face.

The task force is needed because increasing numbers of Australians are concerned to preserve for the enjoyment of future generations the best buildings of our past and the best features of our natural environment. This concern is shared by governments. The Australian Government is committed to the preservation and enhancement of the national estate. The concept of the national estate embraces such things as historic buildings and towns, buildings of architectural merit, major parks, nature reserves, urban parks, scenic reserves, areas along the coastline and so on. The task force will be asked to advise the Australian Government on any additional measures and policies which should be applied to preserve and enhance the national estate and the role the Australian Government can play in assisting the implementation of these measures and policies.

I take this opportunity publicly to thank the Premier of New South Wales, his AttorneyGeneral and the Chief Justice of New South Wales for agreeing so readily to make available to the Australian Government the services of yet another distinguished member of the New South Wales Bench. I remind the House that there are now no fewer than 5 Supreme Court Justices assisting this Government in various important inquiries. Mr Justice Asprey is inquiring into taxation matters; Mr Justice Toose is examining the repatriation system; Mr Justice Else-Mitchell is looking into the system of land tenure in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory; Mr Justice Meares, as I informed the House in a ministerial statement 2 months ago, is sitting with Mr Justice Woodhouse on the national pension inquiry; and finally, as I have menttioned, Mr Justice Hope will be assisting the Government with this inquiry.

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