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Minister for the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts 2001-2004

The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP



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

Interview - 2UE, Steve Price
Thursday, 19 February 2004

Sydney Harbour Heritage and the Distinctively Australian Heritage Program

Compere: Other news that's just been released, Craig Knowles, the Planning Minister, has announced that Garden Island, the naval precinct there, is going to be listed as an historic site. He's asked the New South Wales Heritage Council to list Garden Island and HMAS Kuttabul under the State's Heritage Act.

I thought I read Paul Keating two days ago or yesterday saying that he didn't want the heritage crowd to get hold of Garden Island because they'd try and preserve every nut and bolt and crane and it would wreck that spot. But Keating wanted it to be green. It's timely that that's happened because joining us on the line is Minister, Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, David Kemp. Thanks for your time, Minister.

Minister David Kemp: Not at all, Steve, good to speak with you.

Compere: Did you know about Garden Island?

David Kemp: Well I just heard that. It's interesting that the State Government is now taking some action on heritage around the Sydney Harbour because, of course, the Commonwealth through the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust has been giving the lead on this now for quite some time, and some magnificent sites are about to be returned to Sydneysiders.

Compere: You run and own that Garden Island, don't you, it's yours?

David Kemp: No, not Garden Island.

Compere: It's Commonwealth ownership.

David Kemp: Well…

Compere: Well according to Knowles, he says Garden Island Kuttabul were currently under Commonwealth ownership and a heritage listing would compel conservation compliance with the full provision of the Act.

David Kemp: Yes, but it's not part of the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust lands. And of course Commonwealth sites have to preserve their heritage anyway under our new national heritage legislation.

Compere: So I don't want to drop…

David Kemp: Whether Craig Knowles' action is going to do anything to add to what we've already done - I mean Labor opposed our heritage legislation, if they want to be political about it. But in the last month of the Parliament last year, they tried to vote down the national heritage legislation that underpins our Distinctively Australian heritage campaign that we'll be moving this year and that will allow for the first time sites of national heritage significance to be properly supported and preserved.

Compere: I'm sure I read yesterday Keating said he didn't want Garden Island to be heritage listed. Anyway, I'm sorry to drop that on you but it's just come - it's just been released a few moments ago.

You have today announced some good news on Cockatoo Island, as I understand it, and also on North Head?

David Kemp: That's right. Well Cockatoo Island is now having the high voltage network installed on it and I thought I'd just provide a bit of a foreshadowing of the news there, that Cockatoo Island is going to be lit up at night very shortly and it's going to be a magnificent part of the Sydney Harbour scene. It's been dark and derelict, as you know, for a long time now and for the first time the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust is putting proper power supply across to the island linking it to the land and it's going to be a magnificent site at night. And of course when the work of the Trust has moved on a bit, it's going to be a great cultural centre for Sydney.

Compere: What have you got in mind for North Head?

David Kemp: Well for North Head, we want to see that developed as a sanctuary for fauna. It's got some terrific bushland on it at the moment. We've got people over in New Zealand at the moment who are the world experts on some of these ecological sanctuaries talking with them about how we can best make that development. But that again will be a wonderful site for people to go to.

Compere: And the other sites that you have control of - the Harbour Trust has control around the Harbour, when will we know the total future of them?

David Kemp: Well there is now a plan out as a result of a lot of public consultation by the Harbour Trust. That's Snapper Island. It's the Middle Head, George's Heights, Chowder Bay. There are some very exciting developments up there on Middle Head taking place. And Macquarie Light Station is another one of these sites of the Sydney Harbour Trust and Woolwich* Dock.

The public plans are out there for discussion and consultation. I think the Trust has got wonderful support in the community in Sydney and it's a great tribute to its work.

Compere: Every time you go down that Harbour and you look at the sites that have been preserved and the amount of bush that's preserved, you say to yourself, you say to whoever you're with - if it's people from interstate particularly - you say, how good is this that this has been left like that. Anywhere else in the world it would be covered in office blocks.

David Kemp: Well that's right, I mean it's incredible that it has been preserved and I suppose that's happened because most of these sites have been Defence land and so the public hasn't had access to them. Now people will have access to them and there'll be wonderful public facilities there and very interesting places to visit.

Cockatoo Island is going to see some really big developments there. There'll be, in a cultural sense, there'll be offices and studios in the heritage buildings. There's some of Australia's most important convict heritage on Cockatoo Island, and of course there's just spectacular remnants of our maritime past. During the Second World War, ships were built there. Engines were - complete ships' engines were built there in those great buildings. And they're sitting right alongside those convict sites.

So there's a lot to see on Cockatoo Island. Thousands of people I think have already been over there in the last couple of years. But when the lights go on, it's going to be a great day and I'm sure Sydneysiders will feel very proud.

Compere: Great to talk to you again. Thanks for your time.

David Kemp: Thanks very much, Steve.

Compere: David Kemp there, Minister for the Environment and Heritage, and the Garden Island news came in just before we started speaking to the Minister there. I just wonder what that all means. We'll try and talk to Craig Knowles later in the program.

Commonwealth of Australia