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Doorstop interview, Moorilla vineyard, Berriedale, Hobart, Tasmania
31 March 2009
GARRETT: It's terrific to be able to launch this five CD set from the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and I really acknowledge the very fine work the Orchestra does in covering Australian composers in this way. I think that it's a terrific example of what a regional state-based orchestra can do to provide a greater platform for Australian creativity as a whole. And it was beaut to be able to launch that CD set today and to welcome Lyndon Terracini into his new role and to farewell Richard Mills and to acknowledge the very fine work that the Orchestra has been doing here, not only in Tasmania but also on the mainland.
It is also an opportunity for me to welcome very much the fact that we now have the Australian convict sites nomination going forward. We have received notice that that now will happen. This is a great day for Australia when our convict heritage sites have the opportunity of having the highest level of recognition -world heritage recognition. And I think that this is a tremendous opportunity for us. I am very hopeful that the nomination will be successful.
There is now obviously a period of examination of the nomination. We will have a visitation by heritage experts here over the next 12 months. But my expectation is that we can look very positively at having a successful world heritage nomination for Australia's convict sites. The convict experience has been one of the defining drivers of modern Australian history. Over 160,000 people in this extraordinary penal exercise -men, women and children - a number of whom ended up this state - but also in other parts of Australia as well. It is a hugely important part of our modern history.
And I am very, very pleased that all the strong advocacy that has been undertaken by the Australian Government, and the good work that has been done by officials both at the Commonwealth and the state levels has meant that we can see this nomination underway.
JOURNALIST: So it is still quite a process, is it?
GARRETT: Look it is a process but ICOMOS will come and visit the sites. My expectation is that a good deal of the work that has been done in terms of preparation means that the process is underway and thorough. There is an expectation there that we ought to have some sense of whether or not we have succeeded by 2010.
JOURNALIST: Are you aware of concerns of residents around some of these areas about the impacts that world heritage listing might have on their amenity and what they can do with their properties?
GARRETT: I think the thing to remember here is that whenever there has been potential world heritage nomination of any sites in Australia in the past, there have always been issues around as to whether or not the heritage listing will affect the amenity of those communities who live in or around that site. The short answer is that it doesn't. What happens is that you have a capacity to build a greater regional economy; that you have the opportunity to maintain that high level of amenity that communities have come to experience who are living in or around or near these sites.
I understand there has been a significant amount of consultation underway with communities. That consultation will continue. Remember that the sites in question, and particularly Port Arthur if that is what you are referring to in your question, are already on the National Heritage List. So they already come within the province of the EPBC Act. I do not anticipate that we will have any issues that cannot be satisfactorily worked through with communities in relation to the nomination.
JOURNALIST: If we could just move to the Tarkine road. Forestry Tasmania hope to start building in May. Is that realistic considering it hasn't even been referred to your department yet?
GARRETT: My guess is that that referral ought to happen relatively quickly. It hasn't come to me yet. I am not aware of the timelines of the Tasmanian Government. What I would say is that if the road proposal is referred to me as Minister then I have a process to go through to determine whether or not there will be significant impacts on matters of national environment significance. Until such time as that referral takes place, I will just wait to see if and when it is going to hit my desk.
JOURNALIST :You talked about the need for a full and lengthy examination. Is it likely to be able to done in a month or two to allow construction to start in May?
GARRETT:Again, let us see whether the referral comes through, and in what form it comes to me. I know that there are issues in relation to Tasmanian devils and other potentially threatened and listed species. But until I have actually seen the content and context of a referral, it is not appropriate to make any further comment.
JOURNALIST: So you won't be rushed according to Forestry Tasmania's timetable?
GARRETT: In all of my decision-making, under the EPBC Act, there is a responsibility to diligently and thoroughly consider the matters in front of me. I have done that on every issue that has come to me. They are challengeable in courts of law and I intend to do it thoroughly this time as well.
JOURNALIST: Do you share the concerns that the road might spread the devil facial tumour disease?
GARRETT: I have seen some of that commentary about, but what I want to do is actually see, in substance, what material -including scientific material, advice and other matters relevant - would be in the case of the referral coming through to me.
JOURNALIST: Do you support the tourist road through the Tarkine?
GARRETT: As the determining minister under the EPBC Act, I don't take a view about the merits or otherwise of that road. I have said in the past that I think that Tasmania's overall tourism amenities and qualities are important issues to be considered in relation to any proposals, including proposals of this kind. But what I will do is, in the event that this matter is referred to me and my expectation is that it will be, then I will look at the referral on its merits.
JOURNALIST: Just on the Big hART funding announcement that you are going to next. Is Tasmania on the cusp of a new arts era, this being the biggest funding announcement of its kind?
GARRETT: I am really pleased that we have seen over $400,000 funding commitment under our community funding program for Big hART -a company which as you know has got very strong connections to Tasmania and works quite significantly with less advantaged and remote communities. And I think the work that is being undertaken by Big hART and others here, including by the TSO, is ground-breaking work. I am really very, very enthused and impressed by the creative endeavours of Tasmania's companies and the way in which they get about delivering really innovative connecting work to audiences. And I think there is something we can all learn from that.
JOURNALIST: Just on the pulp mill. Are you satisfied with how Gunns is conducting the effluent modeling in Bass Strait?
GARRETT: In relation to the Gunns pulp mill, my expectation is that all of the necessary work in terms of hydrodynamic modeling will be concluded satisfactorily. That is a process that is underway. It has some time to run through. And until such time as it is finished I won't be making any other additional comments about the processes.