Australian Heritage Commission, 2000
I am pleased to report on the Australian Heritage Commission’s activities for 1999–2000.
Significant advances were made for the protection of Australia’s natural and cultural heritage during the year. The most potentially far-reaching policy development, and one which the Commission applauds, was the Commonwealth Government’s decision in June 2000 to introduce legislation to achieve more effective protection of places of outstanding national heritage significance and places of heritage importance on Commonwealth lands. These measures are in keeping with key Commission proposals developed since 1996 and advanced at the National Heritage Convention in 1998.
The Government also announced that it would establish an independent national heritage council to advise on the identification and conservation of places on the proposed National List. This will mean, effectively, a transformation for the Australian Heritage Commission, which will operate under the aegis of a council.
While ensuring that the Register of the National Estate has an ongoing role under the new Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, it is envisaged that the council will advise the Commonwealth Government on a range of other important issues, such as the identification and protection of heritage places in Commonwealth areas, and the development and promotion of national heritage standards. The Commonwealth’s new heritage regime will set a ‘best practice’ standard for heritage management in Australia, as well as afford an increased level of protection for heritage places of truly national significance.
In other areas of heritage leadership, the Commission released a proposal, Heritage Tourism: Bringing People to the Bush, to implement the outcomes of the Regional Australia summit to members of Parliament, key stakeholders, academics and interest groups. This proposal aims to establish a national program to assist rural and regional communities, businesses and private individuals to restore and maintain our natural, historic and Indigenous heritage places. We hope to play a key role in generating major community-building, employment and economic benefits in rural and regional communities through promotion of their unique heritage tourism assets. In an ongoing effort to implement the proposal, the Commission began developing pilot projects to demonstrate the value of heritage to the future of regional Australia.
The Commission also worked closely with the Australian tourism industry to develop best practice guidelines for tourism businesses and site managers involved in heritage and tourism places. In 1999 the Australian Heritage Commission and the
Tourism Council of Australia released Draft Heritage Tourism Guidelines. These are currently being finalised following receipt and consideration of over 120 submissions and the outcome of five workshops nationally. The Commission also sponsored its first cultural heritage economics conference, Heritage Economics: Challenges for Heritage Conservation and Sustainable Development in the 21st Century, with papers covering topics such as conceptualising heritage as cultural capital, the economic rationale for adaptive re-use, and economic aspects of conserving natural and cultural heritage, including Indigenous tourism.
The Commission again found innovative ways to raise public awareness about heritage places. Publicity was gained in relation to listings of places on the Register of the National Estate through the national song, video and writing competition, Celebrating Australia’s Heritage. The competition attracted hundreds of entries. Winners were presented with prizes and awards by the Minister for the Environment and Heritage during a ceremony at Parliament House.
There was considerable media attention regarding:
- the announcement in London by the Prime Minister of a joint project between the Commission, the National Trust of Australia (New South Wales) and Macquarie Bank Pty Ltd for the conservation of Lachlan Macquarie’s Mausoleum on the Isle of Mull in Scotland; and
- the Fifth National Indigenous Heritage Art Award (to be held in August 2000).
Collaborative work continued between the Commission, the Chinese State Administration for Cultural Heritage and the Getty Conservation Institute (of the United States) to develop principles in China based on Australia’s Burra Charter for cultural heritage management. As a result of this work, a Memorandum of Understanding on cultural heritage cooperation was signed in Beijing by the Australian Heritage Commission, the Department of the Environment and Heritage and the Chinese State Administration for Cultural Heritage. Fields of cooperation identified in the memorandum include conservation of places, research and exchange of expertise.
The Commission provided the Commonwealth Government with independent assessment and advice in relation to over 400 applications for heritage assistance under the Cultural Heritage Projects Program. In line with program objectives, the Commission gave priority to projects of national heritage significance. A total of 44 projects, valued at $3.3 million, were funded from this first round.
The Commission continued its statutory function of identifying the National Estate by entering a total of 280 places on the Interim List of the Register of the National Estate. This included 163 places identified as part of a comprehensive regional assessment of East Gippsland under the Regional Forest Agreement between the Commonwealth and Victoria. Other entries included Dobell House at Wangi Wangi, New South Wales; the Burke and Wills Clump near Lake Boga, Victoria; the Lithgow Small Arms Factory, New South Wales; the Defence Explosive Factory at Maribyrnong, Victoria; the Mount Lucas Rock Wallaby Habitat, near Proserpine, Queensland; and the Pontville Small Arms Range grassland site, Tasmania.
Administratively, the Commission continued to function to a high standard, as recognised, inter alia, in the report of the Australian National Audit Office on the Commission’s financial statements.
During 1999-2000 we welcomed Mrs Rosemary Foot AO as a commissioner and farewelled Commissioner Leith Boully. Ms Boully’s contribution to the Commission was greatly appreciated. Dr Denis Saunders was reappointed as a commissioner for a second one-year term.
In September 1999, we welcomed Mr Bruce Leaver as Executive Director. Bruce joined the Commission after several years as Public Land Use Commissioner in Tasmania and, prior to this, extensive senior experience in State environment and land management agencies.
Finally, I wish to pay tribute to my fellow commissioners and the Commission Executive and staff for their continued high level of dedication and expertise.
Links to another web site
Opens a pop-up window