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National Trust's grave concerns at new heritage law.

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10 November 2006

Ñ To reduce processing time and costs for development interests

Ñ To provide an enhanced ability to deal with large scale projects. "So much for providing a

world-class system to identify and protect our nation's heritage!"


Senator Siewert, Thursday 2nd NOVEMBER 2006

The chairman of the Australian Council of National Trusts, Patrick Comben, today condemned the EPBC Amendment Bill introduced into Parliament 2 weeks ago by the Federal Environment Minister, Senator Campbell. Mr Comben expressed concern on behalf of the National Trust movement and its 80 000 members.

"Our concerns are many," said Mr Comben. "Firstly, we have had very little opportunity to read and absorb this complex Bill. Good legislation is simple. This bill is 409 pages long and will amend an Act which is over 600 pages in length. The system that it sets up is complex, convoluted and confusing. It builds on the failures of the current Act, expanding the discretionary powers of the Minister at the expense of transparency and achieving real conservation gains."

"Quite simply, it is legislation gone mad."

"The Minister is fast tracking the Bill through the Parliament and has allowed the Senate only 2 days of Committee time to examine the Bill, before, with regrettable inevitability, the Bill becomes law in the next 2 or 3 weeks."

"The Bill does not represent best practice in the nationally important area of heritage protection," said Mr Comben.

"This nation deserves the best law to protect our precious heritage. We should expect no less. But what are we getting with this new law? The stated objectives are

"The bill is the final death sentence for the Register of the National Estate. The Register is an icon in its own right. It contains details of over 13 000 places of heritage significance, many of which are not protected by any other legislation. Although its powers are limited, it needs to be retained and sustained, rather than becoming an "archive" as the Minster states."

Without the Register many places that are now World heritage places could have been lost -The Wet Tropical Rainforests, Willandra Lakes, South West Tasmania and the national estate forests of New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania.

Contact Colin Griffiths on 02 62476766 or 0402 350 767

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