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Minister for the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts 2001-2004

The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP

 

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

Doorstop, Melbourne
Sunday, 7 March 2004

Royal Exhibition Building and the criteria for national heritage listing


Dr David Kemp - Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage

All right, I'll start off with the Exhibition Building. This morning, I'm announcing that I'm referring, as the first referral of the Australian Heritage Council, the Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne for inscription on the National Heritage List.

The Royal Exhibition Building is a great Australian icon, it's the site of the first meeting of the Australian parliament so it's really the birth of Australian parliamentary democracy. It's also the place where the Australian flag first flew above the great dome and it's the last surviving great exhibition hall of the nineteenth century. Those exhibitions founded the global economy and the Royal Exhibition Building is a tribute to industrial energy and craftsmanship by the pioneering Australians.

The Royal Exhibition Building is an icon which is a part of Australia's identity. It shows us as a country where we've come from, it's industrial history and heritage inspires us to think what Australian enterprise can do for the future. So the Royal Exhibition Building is going to be the first reference to the Australian Heritage Council for inscription on the national heritage register for full assessment.

Reporter:

What's the next one? Have you got anything else on the list? What's second on the list?

Kemp:

Well, there's no identified second on the list at the moment. Of course, there are other great icons in Australia. One of those great icons is the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Opera House has now just been inscribed on the state heritage list so I'm quite sure that it will be coming forward in the near future for inscription on the national list.

There are also significant convict heritage buildings in Australia and we'd certainly like to see some of that convict heritage inscribed because it tells us not only a very important part about Australia's history and Australia's identity but it's very important in world terms. In fact, I'd like to see some of that convict heritage inscribed on the World Heritage listing.

Reporter:

Minister, what's this … it's being placed on the register, what does it entail? What does it mean in terms of …

Kemp:

Well, inscription on the national register means that the heritage place is then properly protected, it means it's protected with the full force of the law. It means that it's eligible to receive support for its future maintenance and it means that it's got a proper management plan in place to ensure that future generations can enjoy it just as we do.

Reporter:

So, will it change in terms of how it's maintained? Will anything change in terms of what can be done for it?

Kemp:

Well, in the case of the Royal Exhibition Building, it's already got a first-class management plan. It's part of the Melbourne Museum but what it does mean is that it now has a whole set of new legal protections that it didn't have before. And it's eligible to receive Commonwealth funding for its future maintenance if that's required.

Reporter:

Kemp, do you believe that Port Arthur should be on the National Heritage List as well?

Kemp:

Yes, I do. I believe Port Arthur is a remarkable heritage site in Australia, it's one of a number of major convict sites. I think Port Arthur is certainly worth World Heritage listing as well as listing on the national heritage register. I'm hoping that there'll be a nomination for Port Arthur coming forward very soon and that we will see Port Arthur inscribed, as with other convict sites, on the national register as a prelude to World Heritage nomination.

Reporter:

But what is the backed criteria then (indistinct) criteria that we need?

Kemp:

Well, the key criteria are that the place must be important as an item of national heritage significance for Australia. It has to be a place where the Australian identity and the Australian story is intimately involved. It's a place that has probably seen some significant event within Australian history. These are criteria which link our national heritage to our national identity.

Reporter:

Are you asking for submissions from the public?

Kemp:

We are. I'm hopeful this year that we will have nominations to the national list from members of the Australian public right across the country. We're going to be asking the whole community to participate in nominating places for the National Heritage List. I know that most Australians have got a wonderful feel for what it is to be Australian. They want to see the places that mean something to them remembered and preserved for the future and the National Heritage List can achieve that.

Okay, thanks very much.

Commonwealth of Australia