Jun 14, 2005

Australia’s Heritage is in the Wrong Hands

Australia’s Heritage is in the Wrong Hands

MEDIA RELEASE – Anthony Albanese MP – 14 June 2005

Minister Ian Campbell’s credibility has taken another battering today, with one of Australia’s leading heritage experts saying the Minister “threatens to bring the entire national heritage list into disrepute”.

On Friday, the Minister gave emergency protection for cattle grazing in the Victorian Alpine National Park against scientific evidence and advice from heritage experts.

Professor Bill Logan of Deakin University wrote in today’s Herald Sun that the Minister rushed the emergency heritage listing “without any calm and measured assessment of the case…In a single act, [Campbell] threatens to bring the entire national heritage list into disrepute. He undoes more than a decade of work by state and federal heritage ministers and officials to establish a nationally integrated heritage system.”

The Minister has been unable to explain the legal implications of his decision. The Minister says the “legal practicalities” had not been worked out.

On Minister Campbell’s watch:

• The Howard Government has requested road works, which have desecrated one of our most significant heritage sites, Anzac Cove.

• The Minister failed to get heritage protection for Anzac Cove, despite the Prime Minister promising it would be the first nomination to the National Heritage List.

• Only nine sites have been put on the National Heritage List, including only one of our 16 World Heritage sites. The National Trust has described this as “abysmal”.

The Government had a six month period from January – June 2004 to put our 16 World Heritage sites on the National Heritage List, but that was stuffed up because they didn’t understand their own Act. The head of the Department of Environment and Heritage, David Borthwick told Senate Estimates in May 2005:

“there was clearly a misunderstanding in the Department as to the Act’s meaning. That, quite frankly, is a problem…Our understanding of the legislation is that the legislation was not what we thought it was.”

It is very disturbing that neither Minister Campbell nor his Department understand the main environment Act they administer.