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Media Release
Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP

13 May 2003

$52.6 Million for Distinctively Australian Heritage

The Commonwealth Government will provide new funding of $13.3 million over the next four years, providing a total package of $52.6 million, to ensure that the places of national significance to Australia's people, its history and its identity are better protected and understood.

The Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, today announced Distinctively Australian - a new programme for identifying, managing and promoting Australia's national heritage places.

"Distinctively Australian will ensure that the places important to the nation, the places that have helped to define our distinct national identity as Australians, will be well-managed, protected and better appreciated by us all. This is a commitment to deepen our national appreciation of the places, stories, events and people that have made us who we are as a nation," he said.

Dr Kemp said Distinctively Australian would be based on the Government's new heritage legislation which was currently before Parliament.

"This legislation will see the introduction of a National Heritage List of Australia's most outstanding natural, Indigenous and built heritage places. Australians will be able to nominate places to this list," he said.

"Just as a World Heritage listing ensures the protection of places that are significant to the whole world, our new Heritage system will ensure that the places that matter most to Australians will be equally well managed and protected.

"The new List does not replace the existing Register of the National Estate, but adds a new category of protection. When the new List is commenced, the existing Register, with 13,500 places, will remain in place, and will continue to be added to.

"The additional $13.3 million in the 2003-04 Budget is conditional on the passing of this legislation. It will add to existing funding of $39.3 million that will then be better targeted to help identify and protect our nationally significant places.

"The Budget allocation represents an unprecedented national effort to protect Australia's outstanding heritage places and to better understand their significance."

Dr Kemp said inclusion of a place in the National Heritage List would have social and economic benefits for regions with nationally listed places by providing increased heritage tourism and employment in surrounding areas.

A further $500,000 would be spent to celebrate the Year of the Built Environment in 2004.

"Just as the Commonwealth protects 14 natural World Heritage sites, including such icons as Uluru and Kakadu, the Government is committed to protecting the buildings that express our cultural heritage," Dr Kemp said.

"We have been working at an international level to secure World Heritage recognition for two outstanding heritage places - Purnululu (the Bungle Bungles) in WA and Melbourne's Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens.

"The Royal Exhibition Building nomination, if successful, will become the first Australian building to achieve World Heritage status."

Catherine Job (02) 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400

Commonwealth of Australia