Department of the Environment

About us | Contact us | Publications

About us header images - leftAbout us header images - centreAbout us header images - right

Publications archive - Annual reports


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Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time.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 2001-02

Environment Australia, 2002
ISSN 1441-9335

Review of Performance - Outcome One: Environment (continued)

Mungo Woolshed

Identify and protect natural and cultural heritage

Environment Australia identifies, protects and coordinates the management of Australia's World Heritage areas. There are 14 World Heritage areas in Australia: 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 the Greater Blue Mountains Area.

In 2001-02 Environment Australia worked to identify and protect Australia's natural, historic, and cultural heritage through the following programmes:

Programmes that Protect and Conserve Australia's Natural and Cultural Heritage

Management of World Heritage Properties - World Heritage Funding to the States Programme (Administered item)


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


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 has provided $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 $5.3 million were made, discharging the Commonwealth's commitment for 2001-02 and the final commitment of the agreement. The grant provided for implementation of management priorities for the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area based on annual budgets approved by the Commonwealth and Tasmanian governments.

Federation Fund - Federation Cultural Heritage and Major Federation Fund Programmes (Administered item, Departmental output 1.5)


To conserve and find ways to adapt and reuse nationally significant heritage places across Australia.


The Prime Minister approved $1 billion in expenditure under the Federation Fund in August 1998. This included 35 projects administered by Environment Australia totalling $49.7 million. These projects contributed to the conservation and adaptive reuse of nationally significant heritage places across Australia as part of the Commonwealth's celebration of its centennial year.

The Sydney Harbour Federation Trust was also funded. The Trust is covered separately in this report, and has also produced its own annual report for 2001-02.

All but one of the 34 projects had been completed and acquitted as at 30 June 2002, providing good conservation and socio-economic benefits for these heritage places and their communities. The remaining project, the restoration of Melbourne's St Paul's Cathedral spires, will be completed by 31 May 2003.

The St Paul's project deed was signed in October 2001 and as at 30 June 2002, the project was on track for completion in a year's time, consistent with that deed. Work by the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust, originally established as a Federation Fund initiative will also continue for several more years. More detail on this project can be found in the Trust's separate annual report.

Goondiwindi Serpentine Water Park (Administered item)


To protect Boobera Lagoon, an important Indigenous heritage site.


The project provided $5 million to the Goondiwindi community for an alternative facility for water sports. The deed for the project was signed in October 2001. Planning and design was completed in April 2002 and the major civil works component commenced in that month. At 30 June 2002 these works were on track for completion in November 2002, with remaining infrastructure works due to be completed in 2003.

Conservation of Rural and Regional Historic Hotels - Rural and Regional Historic Hotels Programme (Administered item)


To provide one-off assistance, on a matching basis, for the preservation and restoration of rural and regional hotels across Australia, giving priority to hotels with strong community significance and works which would provide socio-economic benefits for those communities.


A total of 178 grants were approved, worth just under $5 million. The funded projects will be progressively completed over the next 12 to 18 months. As at 30 June 2002, formal deeds of agreement had been signed for 95 projects, with works completed on six projects. All the completed projects have successfully restored and conserved features of the hotels concerned which were an important part of these places' historic significance. They have also provided additional economic and social benefits to the regional community concerned, through the injection of funds including towards local employment related to the project. In most cases, the project also improved the functionality of the hotel and consequently its ability to support community activities and/or visitation and tourism levels.

Grants-in-Aid to National Trusts Programme (Administered item)


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


Work completed in 2001-02 included management and conservation of heritage places, including those in the Trust's care; training and development of Trust volunteers; and activities and publications which assist and educate the community on heritage conservation practices and raise the profile of heritage amongst the community.

World Heritage Area Management and Upkeep Programme (Administered item, Departmental output 1.5)


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


Management arrangements for Australia's World Heritage properties continued to be developed by Environment Australia in cooperation with Commonwealth and state property managers. 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.

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 regulation 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.

A total of 140 management project proposals were submitted by the states for funding under the World Heritage component of the Natural Heritage Trust. Of these, 57 projects, totalling over $5 million, were approved. In addition, $8.6 million of Trust and other funding was provided for state-managed World Heritage areas in accordance with bilateral financial and management agreements.

Internationally, Australia continued to play an active and constructive role in World Heritage Committee and expert group meetings. The Asia-Pacific Focal Point for World Heritage, which is hosted by Australia, continued to assist Asia-Pacific states, including Thailand, Indonesia, Vanuatu and Fiji, with World Heritage-related activities and to encourage best practice management of their cultural and natural World Heritage values. Australia further demonstrated its commitment to sharing its World Heritage expertise by signing a memorandum of understanding with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), for ongoing cooperation to promote and implement the World Heritage Convention in the Asia-Pacific region.

Management plans and strategies are in place for 12 of Australia's World Heritage properties, and are under development for the remaining two properties.

New Heritage Legislation Programme


To introduce legislation into the Parliament which will establish a new heritage regime for Australia.


On 27 June 2002, the Government introduced into the House of Representatives the Environment and Heritage Legislation Amendment Bill (No.1) 2002, the Australian Heritage Council Bill 2002 and the Australian Heritage Council (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2002.

The Bills will amend the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act to identify, conserve and protect places of national heritage significance through a National Heritage List; provide for the identification and management of Commonwealth heritage places; and establish the Australian Heritage Council. The council will be an independent expert body advising the Minister on the listing and protection of heritage places.

The Bills were originally introduced into Parliament in December 2000, referred to the Senate's Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts References Committee in 2001 and were before the Senate awaiting debate at the time the 2001 election was called, which led to the lapsing of the Bills. Since that time, a number of amendments have been made to the Bills to implement the Government's election commitments in relation to the Register of the National Estate and best practice heritage management by Commonwealth agencies. The Bills have also been amended to allow the listing of heritage places overseas that are of special importance to Australians.

Sydney Harbour Federation Trust Programme


To set up the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust.


With proclamation of the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust Act 2001 in September 2001, the Trust was formally established to conserve former Defence sites around Sydney Harbour at Middle Head, Georges Heights, Woolwich, Cockatoo Island and North Head. Charged with returning these sites to the people of Australia, the Trust has representatives from all levels of government and the community. Over the next ten years, the Trust will be working with the community to develop plans for the future of these lands. Regulations to enable the Trust to manage the land effectively came into effect in October 2001 and Environment Australia continued to assist the Trust where appropriate.

For further details, see the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust Annual Report 2001-02.

Historic Shipwreaks Programme


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


The programme administers the Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976 in cooperation with the Minister's delegates in each state, the Northern Territory and on Norfolk Island. In Australian waters over 6500 wrecks have been identified, the majority of which are protected by the Historic Shipwrecks Act.

Achievements in 2001-02 included initial development of a National Maritime Heritage Strategy and providing policy and technical advice on implementation of the Act. Environment Australia also coordinated meetings of the Minister's delegates and shipwreck conservation practitioners in Geelong and Adelaide.

Financial assistance totalling $380 641 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.

Negotiations for the Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage were successfully concluded with the convention's adoption by UNESCO in November 2001.

World Heritage Assessments and Nominations Programme


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


In January 2002 the Commonwealth nominated Purnululu National Park in the east Kimberly region of Western Australia for inscription on the World Heritage List. Purnululu National Park has been nominated as a cultural landscape with outstanding universal natural and cultural values. The nomination will be considered by the World Heritage Committee in June 2003.

An assessment of the Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens, Melbourne, was completed to allow consideration to be given to nominating this site for inscription on the World Heritage List.

Commemoration of Historic Events and Famous People Programme


To commemorate people, events and places of national historical significance. The programme provides funds primarily to care for the graves of former Australian prime ministers and, where appropriate and necessary, for erecting suitable plaques. The scope of the programme has grown to include other kinds of commemorative monuments, exhibitions, surveys of historical sites and other projects, all of national significance.


Nine grants totalling $20 000 were approved. Achievements in 2001-02 included the commemoration of four members of the First Australian International Cricket Team of 1868, the French Expedition 1801-1803 and Flinders' Landing at Lucky Bay, Western Australia, monuments to the artist Sir Arthur Streeton and the writer Kylie Tennant, memorials to the writer Miles Franklin, to Matthew Flinders on Wreck Island, to Alfred Howitt and the whaling history of Encounter Bay and maintenance of the graves of former prime ministers Lyons and Forde.

Cultural Heritage Projects Programme


To support the conservation of places of cultural significance including Indigenous heritage places. Only historic places on the Register of the National Estate, its interim list or state heritage registers are eligible for conservation works funding. Projects that aim to identify Indigenous heritage places for appropriate listing or conservation planning may also be supported. Funding will predominantly be for on-ground works.


Of the 45 grants approved in the first funding round, 26 had been completed and fully acquitted as at 30 June 2002, with the remainder due to be completed by 31 December 2002. An additional 45 grants valued at $3.5 million were approved under a second round of the programme in August 2001, with 80 per cent of these grants signed up under a formal deed of agreement by 30 June 2002. A third round was advertised in March 2002, attracting 282 applications. Assessment of these applications was still under way as at 30 June 2002.

Outcomes in 2001-02 were extremely positive, with solid conservation outcomes and related socio-economic benefits achieved for the 26 projects completed. A number of projects also attracted other forms of recognition including national and state heritage and business awards. As an example, the conservation and adaptive reuse of Collit's Inn in the Blue Mountains restored the main building so that the owners were able to provide both good quality bed and breakfast accommodation and an excellent restaurant facility, with the restored stables providing possible venues for functions. Together with the owners' concurrent restoration of a second outbuilding as a permanent manager's residence, this has ensured the long-term viability and protection of this place. The project has already won the Lithgow Heritage Award and an Energy Australia National Trusts Conservation Award.

Protection of Indigenous Heritage


To preserve and protect areas and objects that are of particular significance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from injury or desecration.


Twenty-one applications were made under the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984 seeking protection from threats of injury or desecration to nine areas. The applications came from Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia. The claimed threats of injury or desecration related to urban development in four areas, mining in three areas and tourism and infrastructure development in one area each. Two consultancies were funded to facilitate an agreed outcome, satisfactory to both the applicant and the Minister, on issues raised in the applications. All applicants mentioned lack of adequate consultation with all the relevant Indigenous parties as an important reason for seeking protection under the Commonwealth Act.

One application was withdrawn following an agreement between the applicants and the developer. On 1 May 2002, the declaration for Boobera Lagoon, northern New South Wales came into effect. The declaration prohibits the use of boats powered by an engine and water-skiing on the waters of the lagoon. The Commonwealth is assisting with the development of an alternative site for power boating and waterskiing at Goondiwindi (See Goondiwindi Serpentine Water Park for further details).