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The Hon Peter Garrett AM MP
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts

Four new additions to the National Heritage List; National Treasures TV series; Christmas Island pipistrelle bat; NSW river red gums

E&OE Transcript
Doorstop interview
Launch of the National Treasures mini-documentary series, Sydney Opera House
4 August 2009

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JOURNALIST: Minister can you tell us about the four new sites that have been selected as part of the heritage list and why they were chosen specifically?

GARRETT: To select sites like Dalhousie Springs, Porongurup National Park and sites of really great importance to Australia is done because our heritage is really important to us as Australians. You know, when you put something like the Sydney Opera House on the list or Wattie Creek, the site of the Wave Hill walk off on the list, you're telling Australians something about our history. It lets us know who were are as a people and gives us a sense of where we can go as well.

JOURNALIST: And this new series of the National Treasures, how important is that to give the message to Australians about their history?

GARRETT: Making history accessible to Aussies, presenting it in a way which is entertaining and informative, is really, really important and this is going to be a fantastic series. People will have the opportunity of seeing it on the broadcaster, when they are flying and consequently through websites as well. So this is a beaut opportunity for us to get a bit of access to our history and understand it well.

JOURNALIST: And just on a couple of other environmental issues, where are we up to with the Christmas Island, the pipistrelle bats, how is that proceeding and also, river red gums in New South Wales?

GARRETT: We've got a team of volunteers ready to go across to Christmas Island to start putting the recovery program in place. My expectation is that that will happen in the next week or so and then it is going to be very much a case of seeing how carefully and how considered we can be in determining what kind of populations are remnant.

In relation to river red gums, my expectation is that we will be able to have a process which sees the issues that the Commonwealth has identified as critically important, which is the proper protection of Ramsar areas in the forests in southern New South Wales, given adequate and proper recognition and protection in the longer term. And I am confident that that is going to be something which will rollout between the New South Wales Government and the relevant agencies over the coming months.

JOURNALIST: With the bats it is obviously quite dangerous to take them in to captivity for breeding because that can be quite adverse. In terms of taking this big step how do you feel about that decision?

GARRETT: Look I think the fact is that we have inherited and incredibly difficult and precarious situation on Christmas Island with these bats. We have taken the best scientific advice that is available. I have committed that we should try to have a recovery plan and to have some capture. We don't know how successful it will be. But I think all we can do is take the best advice, put people on the ground who know what they are doing and frankly hope very, very dearly that we are successful.

[ENDS]

Commonwealth of Australia