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Publications archive - Annual reports

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Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

Environment Australia Annual Report 2000-01

Environment Australia, 2001
ISSN 1441-9335

THEME: Heritage

Identify and protect natural and cultural heritage

Environment Australia identifies, protects and coordinates the management of Australia's World Heritage areas. Currently there are 14 World Heritage Areas in Australia. They are: the Great Barrier Reef; the Tasmanian Wilderness; the Wet Tropics of Queensland; Shark Bay; Kakadu National Park; Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park; the Willandra Lakes Region; the Australian Fossil Mammal Sites (Naracoorte and Riversleigh); the Lord Howe Island Group; Heard and McDonald Islands; Macquarie Island; the Central Eastern Rainforest Reserves; Fraser Island; and most recently the Greater Blue Mountains Area.

The identification and protection of Australia's natural, historic and cultural heritage is achieved through these programmes:

  • Australian Heritage Grants;
  • Sydney Harbour Federation Trust;
  • Historic Shipwrecks;
  • World Heritage Management and Upkeep;
  • World Heritage Assessments and Nominations;
  • Grants-in-Aid to the National Trusts;
  • World Heritage Funding to the States;
  • Commemoration of Historic Events and Famous People;
  • Federation Cultural and Heritage;
  • Cultural Heritage Projects; and
  • Protection of Indigenous Heritage.

The Australian Heritage Commission is responsible for many of the Commonwealth's programmes to identify and protect Australian heritage. These programmes are described in the commission's annual report prepared pursuant to section 9 of the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997 and section 43 of the Australian Heritage Commission Act 1975.

PROGRAMMES THAT PROTECT AND CONSERVE THE ENVIRONMENT

Australian Heritage Grants Programme

Objective

To assist in the effective management of Australia's cultural and natural heritage.

Result

Financial assistance was provided under the Federation Fund Programme; the Federation Cultural and Heritage Programme; the Cultural Heritage Projects Programme; the Commemoration of Historic Events and Famous People Programme; and the Grants-in-Aid to the National Trust Programme.

Under the two Federation Fund programmes, conservation works were completed for 15 of the 35 projects supported. Of 44 projects supported under the first round of the Cultural Heritage Projects Programme, seven have been completed and 36 were well underway by the end of the financial year. One project was delayed due to some organisational issues surrounding the recipient body. Three projects were funded under the Commemoration of Historic Events and Famous People Programme, including funding to the Shire of Busselton to commemorate the landing of Nicholas Baudin on the Western Australian south coast. All National Trust bodies received the agreed level of annual assistance under the Grants-in-Aid to the National Trust Programme.

Sydney Harbour Federation Trust Programme

Objective

To set up the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust.

Result

In 1998 the Government made a commitment to protect former defence sites at North Head, Middle Head, Georges Heights, Woolwich and Cockatoo Island through the establishment of a Sydney Harbour Federation Trust.

The Interim Sydney Harbour Federation Trust, set up under the auspices of Environment Australia, continued its work on community consultation and preliminary planning for the sites. In October 2000 it published Reflections on a Maritime City: An Appreciation of the Trust Lands on Sydney Harbour. In May 2001, in conjunction with a public exhibition about the future of the sites, the trust published Sites Unseen: Exploring the Future of Trust Lands on Sydney Harbour.

The Sydney Harbour Federation Trust Act 2001 was passed by Parliament in February and received Royal Assent on 20 March 2001. The Act will come into force in September 2001, if it is not proclaimed earlier. Regulations are being prepared.

Historic Shipwrecks Programme

Objective

To ensure the protection of maritime archaeological sites while encouraging responsible public access.

Result

Through the Historic Shipwrecks Programme, the Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976 is administered in cooperation with the Minister's delegates in each of the States, the Northern Territory and on Norfolk Island. Over 6500 wrecks have been identified within Australian waters. The majority of the wrecks are protected by this legislation. Activities throughout the year included coordinating meetings of the Minister's delegates and shipwreck practitioners, and providing policy and technical advice on implementation of the Act. Agreement was also reached with the Minister's delegates for the development of a national maritime heritage strategy.

Financial assistance was provided to the State and Territory agencies that assist the Commonwealth to administer the Historic Shipwrecks Act and to the Australasian Institute for Maritime Archaeology. Projects that were consistent with the mission and goals of the Historic Shipwrecks Programme were selected for funding.

Environment Australia continued to play a leading role in negotiations for a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage.

World Heritage Management and Upkeep Programme - Natural Heritage Trust

Objective

To protect and manage the Australian World Heritage properties. To provide management plans to meet World Heritage obligations.

Result

Management arrangements for Australia's World Heritage properties were developed by Environment Australia in cooperation with Commonwealth and State property managers. Currently, Australia has 14 properties on the World Heritage List. They are the Tasmanian Wilderness; the Great Barrier Reef; the Wet Tropics of Queensland; Shark Bay; the Australian Fossil Mammal Sites (Riversleigh and Naracoorte); Kakadu National Park; Willandra Lakes Region; Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park; the Lord Howe Island Group; the Central Eastern Rainforest Reserves (Australia); Fraser Island; Macquarie Island; Heard and McDonald Islands; and the Greater Blue Mountains Area which was inscribed on the World Heritage list in November 2000.

The World Heritage values of Australia's 14 declared World Heritage properties are protected by the Commonwealth's Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. Additional protection is provided by management plans and management strategies. Protection provided by the Act includes prohibition of any proposed actions that have, will have or are likely to have a significant impact on the World Heritage values of the declared World Heritage property and the Australian World Heritage Management Principles, which prescribe principles for the management of natural and cultural heritage.

Management arrangements include providing funding on a competitive basis for the identification, protection, conservation, presentation and transmission of World Heritage values of declared World Heritage properties, and funding for consultative management activities and project implementation. Management activities and project implementation work are undertaken through cooperative consultative arrangements that involve the community, technical experts, and local, State and Commonwealth Governments.

World Heritage management proposals were assessed and advice was provided to the Minister on management activities and funding priorities under the Natural Heritage Trust and other sources.

Management plans and strategies addressing the identification, protection, conservation, presentation and transmission of World Heritage values have been developed, implemented and reviewed for 11 of the World Heritage properties. Plans or strategies are under development for the three remaining properties. This has been achieved through community and technical consultative mechanisms as well as through cooperation with State land management agencies.
More than 50 management projects were approved totalling over $12.8 million.

World Heritage Assessments and Nominations Programme

Objective

To ensure the identification of Australia's World Heritage properties as an obligation under the World Heritage Convention.

Result

Activities for the year included detailed supplementary advice to the World Heritage Committee on the Greater Blue Mountains Area and the development of documentation for a possible World Heritage nomination of Purnululu National Park.

World Heritage values assessment for the Royal Melbourne Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens was initiated.

Discussions took place with the States regarding four potential World Heritage nominations: the Sydney Opera House; the Australian Convict Sites; Purnululu National Park and an extension to the Riversleigh Fossil Mammal Site.

Grants-in-Aid to National Trusts Programme

Objective

To support the National Trusts' activities that increase public awareness, understanding and appreciation of Australia's cultural heritage, that enhance and promote its conservation, and that assist the Trusts to publicly support and work for the preservation and enhancement of the National Estate.

Result

Six contracts were signed and grant monies were paid in full by December 2000. The remaining three contracts, which were delayed by recipients' late discharge of the previous year's grants, were signed and paid in April, May and early June respectively.

World Heritage Funding to the States Programme

Objective

To manage and fund protection of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage area.

Result

The Commonwealth and Tasmanian governments agreed in December 1998 to share the cost of managing the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage area. Under the agreement the Commonwealth will provide $20.6 million over four years ending in 2001-02.

The grant to the Tasmanian Government was administered and paid in compliance with the agreement. Quarterly payments totalling $5.23 million were made, discharging the Commonwealth's commitment for 2000-01.

Federation Fund Programme

Objective

To improve Australia's infrastructure, enhance cultural and social facilities and contribute to economic growth.

Result

All 34 projects continued to be managed consistent with contract timelines, agreed reporting mechanisms and the aim for completion of works within the centenary year.

DEPARTMENTAL OUTPUTS THAT SUPPORT THESE PROGRAMMES

Output group 1.1 - Policy advice and accountability

Domestic | International | State of the environment | Corporate reform

Australian and World Heritage issues

Australia was one of the earliest signatories to the World Heritage Convention and is currently a member of the World Heritage Committee. Australia hosted the World Heritage Committee meeting in Cairns in November 2000 and chaired the World Heritage Committee.

Policy and technical advice was provided to the Minister and departmental executive in relation to Australia's participation in the reform of the World Heritage Committee's operational guidelines; referrals made under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act; management issues associated with World Heritage places; the Government's World Heritage nomination commitments; and Australia's role in promoting the World Heritage Convention in the Asia-Pacific region.

World Heritage management proposals were assessed and advice provided to the Minister on management activities and funding priorities under the Natural Heritage Trust and other sources.

Output group 1.2 - Programme administration

Grants | Schemes

Provision of grants - Australian heritage

All audits conducted during the year, including a follow-up audit of the Federation Fund projects by the Australian National Audit Office, determined that the administration of grant programmes was consistent with best-practice standards.

All successful funding recipients under the Cultural Heritage Projects Programme were provided with draft deeds for signing within three months of ministerial approval, with 98 per cent signed by the end of the financial year.

Two of the three grants awarded under the Commemoration of Historic Events and Famous Persons Programme were also signed within three months of the Minister's approval. The third was signed within four months.

World Heritage funding to the States

A grant of $5.23 million to the Tasmanian Government was administered and paid in compliance with the December 1998 agreement for management and funding of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage area.

Historic shipwrecks grants

Nine grants under the Historic Shipwrecks Programme totalling $332 054 were made to the States, the Northern Territory, Norfolk Island and the Australasian Institute for Maritime Archaeology. The grants were to assist in the administration of the Historic Shipwrecks Act and the protection and conservation of historic shipwrecks.

Output group 1.3 - Strategies

Agreements | Codes | Coordination

Management arrangements for World Heritage properties

Management plans and strategies for World Heritage properties have been developed, implemented and reviewed through community and technical consultative mechanisms, State land management agencies and Commonwealth activities. These plans and strategies address the identification, protection, conservation, presentation and transmission of World Heritage values. The World Heritage values of Australia's 14 declared World Heritage properties are protected by the Commonwealth's Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, management plans and management strategies.

Fifty-one proposed actions involving World Heritage properties were referred under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. Consultation was undertaken with stakeholders and the potential for significant impacts on the World Heritage values of the World Heritage properties were assessed.

Output group 1.4 - International participation

Forums | Obligations | Representation

International obligations - World Heritage

Australia has an international commitment to protect its World Heritage properties, recognising that it is the duty of the international community as a whole to cooperate in the protection of World Heritage.

Australia's obligations were met through:

The World Heritage Committee meeting in Cairns in late 2000 agreed to add the Blue Mountains to the World Heritage list. The committee also reached agreement on measures to advance the reform of the operation of the World Heritage Convention.

Environment Australia represented Australia's position at additional bureau meetings to advance the reform agenda of the committee.
Australia's financial obligations to the World Heritage fund were met.

Environment Australia supported the participation of an Australian representative in a meeting of the Council of the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property. The council approved new strategic directions, including planning for historic cities and cultural landscapes.

Output group 1.5 - Information

Databases | Websites | Education

Community participation in Australian and World Heritage matters

Australia has an obligation under the World Heritage Convention to ensure that its natural and cultural heritage is presented to, and has a role in the life of, the Australian community.

Readily accessible information was provided to Australian and international communities about World Heritage in Australia.

Australia provided opportunities for community and scientific advisory input to the planning, management, protection and presentation of existing and potential Australian World Heritage properties.

Seminars on Australia's World Heritage and its management were presented to domestic and international audiences. Leaflets on Australia's World Heritage properties, their management and relation to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act were developed and distributed. The Australian World Heritage and Asia-Pacific Focal Point websites were further developed.

A World Heritage Indigenous Peoples' Forum and a World Heritage Youth Forum were held in conjunction with the World Heritage Committee meeting in Cairns.
Community input to the planning and management of Australia's World Heritage properties was enhanced and maintained by the continuation of support for the various community and scientific advisory committees for the World Heritage properties.

Output group 1.6 - Legislation

Reforms | Standards | Regulations

New heritage legislation

The heritage Bills introduced into the Parliament in late 2000 represent the outcome of four years' work to implement the Government's environmental reform agenda in relation to national heritage protection.

The new legislation aims to reduce duplication between the Commonwealth and the States by focusing the Commonwealth on matters of national heritage significance. It is a further implementation of the Council of Australian Governments' 1997 agreement on Commonwealth-State roles and responsibilities for the environment.

The Bills were introduced into Parliament on 7 December 2000 and the Government is seeking their passage during the spring 2001 session of Parliament. The Bills will amend the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act to identify, conserve and protect places of national significance, provide for the management of Commonwealth heritage places and establish the Australian Heritage Council.

Indigenous heritage

Under indigenous heritage legislation, indigenous people can apply to the Commonwealth under the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984 for the preservation and protection from injury or desecration of areas and objects in Australia and in Australian waters that are of particular significance to Aboriginal people in accordance with Aboriginal tradition. The Act is a last-resort measure that can provide protection from injury or desecration where State or Territory laws do not provide such protection.

The Act provides for emergency and longer-term declarations to be made. The Minister can appoint mediators where an application has been made. The Minister has to nominate a reporter and receive a report where applications are made for longer-term protection under section 10 of the Act. Declarations can also be made to protect significant indigenous objects.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Bill 1998, which will replace the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act, was introduced into the Parliament in March 1998. The Bill seeks to reduce duplication between Commonwealth and State and Territory laws by accrediting State legislation. Proposed amendments to the Bill have still to be considered by Parliament. Discussions are continuing with peak Aboriginal bodies and with industry groups.

Historic shipwrecks

The Commonwealth provides protection for historic shipwrecks in waters under Commonwealth jurisdiction through the Historic Shipwrecks Act, which is administered in conjunction with agencies in each State, the Northern Territory and on Norfolk Island. The objective of the Act is to ensure the protection and conservation of historic shipwrecks while encouraging responsible public access. The Act prohibits damage, interference, destruction or removal of a historic shipwreck or associated relics, except in accordance with a permit.

Environment Australia continued to provide advice in relation to the administration of the legislation and convened a meeting of the Minister's delegates in Melbourne.
Environment Australia took a leading role in Australia's ongoing participation in the development of a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage. Environment Australia also continued to review the existing agreement between the Netherlands and Australia on Dutch shipwrecks, and pursued an agreement with the United Kingdom on old Admiralty wrecks in Australian waters.

Output group 1.7 - Assessments and research

Science | Impact assessments

World Heritage assessment procedures

Advice on best scientific practice for World Heritage assessment procedures was provided to government agencies, organisations and the community.

ACTIVITIES AND THE ADMINISTRATION OF LEGISLATION THAT ACCORD WITH THE PRINCIPLES OF ECOLOGICALLY SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

All of Environment Australia's policies and activities to protect natural and cultural heritage contribute to achieving ecologically sustainable development. Specifically the Commonwealth Acts which identify and protect Australian heritage places are:

Each of these Acts, in various ways, provides a mechanism for implementing the principle of intergenerational equity by identifying and protecting for future generations places of local, regional, national and international significance.

Under the Australian Heritage Commission Act and the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act advice is provided about heritage values which facilitates better decision-making and contributes to the conservation of both biological diversity and the ecological integrity of places.

The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act establishes by regulation the World Heritage Management Principles which must be met in management plans for World Heritage.

The Commonwealth provides supplementary funding through the Natural Heritage Trust to State World Heritage area managers. Under the Natural Heritage Trust of Australia Act 1997 the responsible Ministers must have regard to ecologically sustainable development principles in making decisions under the Act.

The Commonwealth is preparing the Australian component of the first Asia-Pacific Regional Periodic Report on the State of Conservation of World Heritage Properties. The report will be made to the World Heritage Committee. It will provide the first national benchmark for monitoring and review that incorporates the principles of ecologically sustainable development.