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Senator Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment

Media Release

World Heritage Nomination for Subantarctic Wilderness


26 June 1996
(79/96)
Australia has nominated Heard Island, McDonald Islands and Macquarie Island for World Heritage listing.

Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill has signed the nomination for the listing in Canberra today. Macquarie Island was jointly nominated with the Tasmanian Government.

Senator Hill says the nomination delivers on the Coalition's election commitment to pursue World Heritage listing for the subantarctic islands.

"Today's nomination builds on the Coalition's proud record on World Heritage. It was the Fraser Government which pioneered the first listings under the World Heritage Convention with the Great Barrier Reef, Kakadu Stage 1 and Willandra Lakes. Lord Howe Island and the Tasmanian Wilderness were also listed under the Fraser Government.

"The nomination of the subantarctic islands marks the beginning of a new phase in the Coalition's commitment to the World Heritage Convention."

Senator Hill says the islands have been nominated for their outstanding natural values.

"Macquarie Island is being nominated for its geological significance. It is the only known locality where the ocean's floor is exposed above sea level as a consequence of the uplift caused by the interaction of two major oceanic plate boundaries.

"This provides unique research opportunities as it is the only place in the world where you can study these important geological processes above sea level.

"The joint nomination of Macquarie Island with the Tasmanian Government confirms our commitment and ability to work cooperatively with the States on World Heritage issues."

Senator Hill says Heard Island and McDonald Islands are being nominated for their physical, biological, ecological and aesthetic qualities.

"This is the only island group representative of an intact ecosystem in the subantarctic region. It provides a pristine habitat for important seal and penguin and other bird colonies.

"'Big Ben', on Heard Island, is the only currently active volcano either in the subantarctic or Australia."

Senator Hill says the nomination confirms the Australian Government believes the islands are among the world's most valued natural assets.

The nomination documents will be submitted to the World Heritage Centre in Paris on July 1st.

For further comment contact Matt Brown on 06 277 7640.

Backgrounder

Commonwealth of Australia