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Media Release
Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP

16 May 2002

Commonwealth to Manage Tasmanian Wilderness?

Today, the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, expressed his concern that the Tasmanian Government does not seem to have an understanding of how World Heritage funding arrangements work in Australia.

"I believed that it was clear from my budget press release that this was not necessarily a cut in funding but simply was a change in the funding arrangements," Dr Kemp said.

"I was further surprised to hear Tasmanian Treasurer, David Crean, suggest that Tasmania's state-managed World Heritage Areas be funded on the same basis as Commonwealth-managed properties such as the Great Barrier Reef and Kakadu.

"Is he suggesting the Commonwealth should own and manage Tasmania's World Heritage for them," Dr Kemp questioned.

"Mr Bacon's Government needs to put more energy into protecting the environment and co-operating with the Commonwealth and less into playing petty politics and complaining. If it's not fox funding it's World Heritage funding. Playing these games is irresponsible and at the end of the day the environment will bear the cost.

"I also was also concerned to hear Tasmanian Green, Peg Putt's criticism suggesting that Commonwealth funds for World Heritage management have been misused by Tasmania.

"These new funding arrangements under the second phase of the Natural Heritage Trust will provide a fully transparent situation and also move towards putting Tasmania on an equal playing field with other States when it comes to applying for World Heritage funding."

In 1982, the original World Heritage listing of the Tasmanian Wilderness was a decision that had a huge impact on Tasmania. Accordingly the Commonwealth agreed to provide special assistance in the form of a specific funding agreement, which lapsed this year. Other State-managed properties must seek Commonwealth World Heritage Assistance on a demonstrated priority needs basis.

"Today the Tasmanian Wilderness, which back in 1982 was considered an economic liability, has been transformed into a great asset, delivering valuable eco-tourism dollars into the State's economy," Dr Kemp said.

"The number of state-managed World heritage properties has also changed increasing from 5 in 1982 when the agreement was first struck to 10 today. Clearly there is a need to ensure that all states get treated fairly.

"This year, under the new Natural Heritage Trust arrangements, all state-managed World Heritage properties will be eligible for funding support from the Bushcare program under national/state and regional delivery mechanisms.

"I want to ensure that all state-managed properties are positioned to identify strategic management priorities, and to compete for Natural Heritage Trust support on a common and equitable basis.

"To ensure that Tasmania is not disadvantaged under the new arrangements I have guaranteed a minimum of $4.3 million in 2002-03. This will allow Tasmania to move in an orderly manner to full participation in the new Natural Heritage Trust arrangements and will help them identify other funding opportunities - continuing the Coalition's record of being the most generous Government in history to the Tasmanian environment," Dr Kemp said.

Media contact:
Catherine Job (02) 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400

Commonwealth of Australia