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Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell
1 May 2006
Laborís Environment Spokesperson, Anthony Albanese is misleading the Australian people with his calls for Antarctica to be added to the World Heritage List.
Mr Albanese and the Australian Labor Party should know that a nomination of Antarctica by Australia is not possible under the very Convention that creates World Heritage.
If it were possible, one could ask why it didnít happen when Labor was in Government.
Article 11 of the World Heritage Convention provides that a nation may only submit to the World Heritage Committee a nomination of a property 'situated in its territory'.
The Australian Antarctic Territory (AAT) does not encompass the whole of the Antarctic continent. Therefore Australia could not nominate the whole of Antarctica for inclusion on the World Heritage List.
Had Mr Albanese done his homework he would know that Australiaís claim over its own Antarctic Territory is not universally recognised internationally. Therefore a nomination of the AAT on its own would not be recognised by other nations.
More importantly, any environmental benefits to Antarctica that could arise from world heritage status have already been achieved, indeed exceeded, by other international legal obligations.
These primarily consist of the 1959 Antarctic Treaty, the 1982 Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources and the 1991 Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty (known as the Madrid Protocol) which, among other things, prohibits mining in Antarctica.
Together, these instruments comprise the backbone of the Antarctic Treaty system and provide comprehensive protection for the environment of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.
Australia remains a strong supporter of the Madrid Protocol and is committed to protecting the unique Antarctic environment.
Marianne McCabe 02 6277 7640 or 0400 389 580