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Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP
Interview - 2UE Mike Carlton
Wednesday, 3 September 2003
Mike Carlton: The Federal Government has signed off on its plans to revitalise some of the heritage sites around the harbour, places like the former Artillery School at North Head, Cockatoo Island, Macquarie Lighthouse, the Woolwich Dock, and so on. Seven sites will be transformed over the next few years, and I've just been looking through the list of what they're going to do, and it's very, very exciting stuff. Let's talk about that. Dr David Kemp is the Federal Environment and Heritage Minister. Good afternoon.
David Kemp: Good afternoon, Mike.
Mike Carlton: This looks wonderful. Tell us more.
David Kemp: It is, it's terrific, isn't it? It's very exciting. Cockatoo Island has got a great location in Sydney Harbour there, and with Sydney Harbour, with boats out there, that's what Australians think of Sydney as being, and this Cockatoo Island will now have maritime activity brought back, we'll have people servicing the boating community of Sydney, and the international boating community.
On Middle Head and Georges Heights, there's going to be a most wonderful headland park created, which will link up the various old defence sites there, and provide new views of Sydney that I think this generation has never seen before.
Mike Carlton: That's a marvellous part of the world there, and yet very few people get there.
David Kemp: That's right. And in fact it has some of the oldest Aboriginal heritage around Sydney, and one of the ideas in the plan is that we could have an Aboriginal cultural centre up there to tell people, both school children and present Sydney residents and international visitors about the long occupation at the site by indigenous people.
Mike Carlton: Yes. OK, let's just go through a couple, if you will. The North Head Artillery School. What about that?
David Kemp: Well, North Head has got a perfect place there for a sanctuary. There are some very interesting species of flora there, fauna can be brought there as well, and we can have a sanctuary that people can visit. The North Head Artillery School is ideal for research and education, it could be used as a health retreat or for conferences and functions. So you've got both a natural environment there, and you've got a wonderful place to go, and perhaps carry out some very useful activities for the community.
Mike Carlton: A lot of this stuff is old convict buildings too, particularly in places like Cockatoo Island and Snapper Island, isn't it?
David Kemp: It is. The Cockatoo Island convict buildings, they are some of the most important in Australia's convict heritage, and I think if we ever went for a world heritage nomination for Australia's convict sites, that Cockatoo Island would be in there.
Mike Carlton: Yes. Now what about the Macquarie Lighthouse there on South Head?
David Kemp: Well Macquarie Light Station and the former Marine Biological Station at Watsons Bay are really harbour treasures. They've got terrific histories to tell. As we know Francis Greenway designed the first lighthouse there, and when the stone proved to be too soft they really replicated it in the current light station. There's even archaeological work going on up there. So although it's a small site, it really is emblematic I think, of Sydney's history.
Mike Carlton: Yes. And how much money are you pumping into this?
David Kemp: Well in the last budget the Federal Government set aside some $115 million to fully fund this work at the Trust, and with some of the resources that'll come from the use of these sites, I would expect that we'll see almost $200 million put in to building up an historic heritage and decontaminating the industrial areas on Cockatoo Island.
Mike Carlton: That's going to be a fair old job, because there's a lot of industrial filth around Cockatoo, isn't there?
David Kemp: There is, there's quite a big decontamination and remediation task to do there, that'll cost quite a few million dollars, but it's well worth it, because when that's done that'll be an absolutely iconic site to go to.
Mike Carlton: Yes, it'll be fabulous. Minister, good to talk to you. That's really good news for Sydney people.
David Kemp: Thanks very much, Mike.
Mike Carlton: Thanks a lot, bye bye. Dr David Kemp, the Minister for the Environment. And it is exciting what they're doing there. You know, it's not a political thing, it's an environment and heritage thing. It's being done with considerable consultation, along with the Harbour Trust, and nearly 3000 public submissions, and it sounds just beaut.
If you've ever been out to some of those harbour island places like Cockatoo or Snapper Island, it's just marvellous. And the thought that they'll be preserved, and not for bloody great big blocks of home units, but preserved in all their colonial and historic splendour, is just really great stuff. You've got to be happy about that.