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

2UE - Mike Carlton
Wednesday, 14 May 2003

Extra $13 Million to go into Listing and Protecting Places which are Part of Australia's National Heritage

Mike Carlton: One thing I found intriguing in the budget - and I must say I paid extra attention when I heard the Treasurer suddenly talking about this - an extra $13 million to go into listing and protecting places important to our national heritage, $52 million all-up. And the Treasurer gave us one example - Anzac Cove at Gallipoli - a part of our heritage which we would all agree with. And so - what else? I thought we'd find out. The man in charge of this is actually the Minister for Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp. Good afternoon.

David Kemp: Good afternoon, Mike.

Mike Carlton: What have you got in mind?

David Kemp: We've got in mind going to the Australian people and saying, "The Australian government is going to protect those places that are of real importance to our national identity and heritage. We'd like you to take part with us in an exercise to nominate those places." And we'll look through the nominations that we'll get. And I'm sure many Australians have got places that move them, that make their spines tingle when they get there - places like Port Arthur, I suppose is a tremendous example of our convict heritage. Places like Kokoda in Papua New Guinea is another example of our military heritage that really gives Australians I think a very special feeling when they go there. And working with the Australian people here and with the governments overseas where they're in control of those places. We want to put in place a register of all these places that really feed into our identity and make sure they've got proper protection.

Mike Carlton: I thought we already had a Register of the National Estate, though - which is places of cultural and historical and heritage significance. What's the difference?

David Kemp: The difference is that the Register of the National Estate has got 14,000 places on it at the moment. And many of those places are places of only local significance - like Barwon Heads bridge, for example, in Victoria. Most of your listeners probably have never heard of that place, and they wouldn't think it was of national importance. But it's very important to the people who live there and the people who've watched Sea Change being produced- -

Mike Carlton: Yes, I think we all know it from Sea Change. That's right. But you are talking about places that every Australian would recognise - often with a tug of the heart strings.

David Kemp: That's right - because our national identity's very much bound up with events that take place at particular locations. And today we've got buildings and places that really represent those historic events. It could also include indigenous heritage, of course. Because a lot of what we've got here is not only important in Australia's story, but it's important in the story of the human race because a lot of things happened first in Australia, like the extraordinary rock art that we've got. So people could range very widely in nominating places for this national list.

Mike Carlton: OK. When you've got the list then, what - you put money into preserving them or protecting them, do you?

David Kemp: Yes, first we make sure that they're properly managed. Some of them are already properly managed. The Sydney Opera House is an obvious case where there's no need to put extra money in from the national register because it's already being properly managed and it needs a proper management plan - which surprisingly it doesn't yet have. But there'd be other places that really need Commonwealth support and of course we'd like to see private support coming in, too - because everybody in Australia has got an interest in making sure that these places are properly preserved.

Mike Carlton: All right. I think that's quite intriguing. So you would invite suggestions? Will you do that in a formal way - run ads?

David Kemp: We are going to do that. That's part of the campaign. We've got the legislation now in the Senate. The Democrats and the Labor Party are holding that up at the moment. But I'm urging them to get that legislation through quickly so we can get on and start talking to the Australian people about this important exercise.

Mike Carlton: OK. Getting a little more local - you're going to pump more money into some of the land around Sydney harbour?

David Kemp: We are, Mike. That's a tremendous commitment in the budget. We've actually allocated $115 million of new money, which hasn't been available before, for the next eight years to allow the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust to preserve what are really some of the most important heritage sites we've got in this country.

Mike Carlton: Like Cockatoo Island?

David Kemp: Yes, Cockatoo Island is an example where you've got occupation that goes back virtually to 1788. You've got terrible pollution of the land there, toxic substances over the years. You've got extraordinary convict heritage on that island. I think unless you've there, people won't know just what is there. And it's some of Australia's most outstanding convict heritage. And yet it's been hidden from people for a long time. So the Commonwealth is really trying to present these wonderful sites to the Australian people - not just the people of Sydney.

Mike Carlton: All right. Can't argue with that either. But Cockatoo Island is almost dead at the moment, dormant. It just sort of sits there and nothing happens. You're going to try and breathe some life back into it, are you?

David Kemp: Absolutely - and I know the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust is looking at ways of getting some boating activities there. It possibly can be used for an international hotel and accommodation, looking down the harbour. There are all sorts of possibilities. The trust has produced a management plan in consultation with the Sydney community, I know. And there's some really visionary possibilities for Cockatoo Island because of the strategic place that it has in the harbour.

Mike Carlton: OK. When are you going to start advertising for suggestions for this list?

David Kemp: As soon as this legislation goes through the Senate we'll be out there on the road asking people for their opinions.

Mike Carlton: OK Dr Kemp - thanks very much.

David Kemp: Thanks very much, Mike.

Mike Carlton: Thank you kindly. David Kemp, the Minister for the Environment and Heritage. I think that's a good budget measure. It's not huge, not an enormous of money when you're talking the billions of the budget. But I rather like the idea of this distinctively Australian program - to list places of significance, national significance, not local. Obviously some stand out. Ayers Rock, I guess, or Uluru, certainly Anzac Cove - money would be set aside in co-operation with the Turkish government to keep that place as we would like it. I think that's a good idea. I think that's terrific. Full marks for that one. Not a problem.


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

Commonwealth of Australia