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The Hon Peter Garrett AM MP
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts

$60 million heritage fund as part of the jobs plan

Doorstop interview Budj Bim National Heritage Landscape, South-West Victoria
29 April 2009

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GARRETT: Today is a special day because we are announcing the first in the heritage component - the $60 million - of the Jobs Fund - a fund specifically designed to stimulate economic activity in the country and provide the opportunity for job ready projects to get underway. And I am absolutely delighted that we're here at Budj Bim to provide some assistance for the provision of cycling and walking trails in this really important national heritage landscape and recognise the area. And my thanks to the community here for hosting this event and to say that this is a really important day because what we committed to do as a Government was to make sure that we respond to the significant economic challenges that we face by taking decisive action. That means providing the opportunity for moneys to flow in areas where we can get employment and on ground activity happening. And we do have a $60 million component of that Jobs Fund which provides for investment in heritage. It is an investment which is absolutely critical for us - not only because Australia's natural and cultural heritage is significance - and Budj Bim itself is particularly significant given that it was the first place to go on the National Heritage List - but also because we'll be providing the opportunities for immediate employment, for local tradespeople and local suppliers of goods and materials to be able to participate and of course to provide additional ongoing benefit by way of increased tourism possibilities and capacities that will come about as a result of this project.

There will be more announcements to come but it's a very important day for us to be here at Budj Bim. This is an absolutely critical part of the natural and cultural heritage and history of Australia but it is a place which is very much alive with possibilities and the activities of the community here building tourism - the tourism trails and the like - will be enhanced by the Government's decision today

JOURNALIST The Gunditjmara have already got heritage listing and been through the native title process and they've already begun building on that cultural heritage with the interpretation centre. Was this project a bit of a no-brainer when it came to funding an extension of it?

GARRETT: Well we wanted to get projects up and underway immediately. This project was an absolute dead-set let's do it project because of the significant work that has already been undertaken, the fact that they were job ready in terms of actually having the capacity to get the work done and to employ people straight away and also to build on the very good work that they have already done.

JOURNALIST What other projects, can you give us an insight into your considering? There is obviously lots of different sorts of projects - not just cultural heritage but architectural heritage, physical heritage?

GARRETT: Look some of the projects that we'll be looking at will have not only national heritage listing criteria and importance but also projects that have been identified by the National Trust as being priority projects that are ready to go.

Australia's tourism economy is a critical one and it is certainly going to be experiencing some challenge during this period of the global financial crisis. Yet what we do know is that the heritage component of tourism is one which is meaningful to people who and it has economic value. So we're in a situation now where we are providing effectively heritage infrastructure investment which will serve our tourism industry well in the medium term and in the longer term, and ill be looking at projects that actually deliver, not only because they've got heritage value, but because they have got potential economic value into the future as well.

JOURNALIST This one was ready to go - how would it have been funded if not for this or how long would it take?

GARRETT: Well what I can say is that we want to get people back into work, we want to get them building things like these bike and walking trails straight away and we want to do it at a time when we're about to go into what will be a very tough and difficult budget. The Treasurer made clear in his remarks of the past 48 hours or so that the global economic situation is one which presents immense challenges for this country on a scale that we haven't seen for some time. So, these investments which can take up employment now and produce potential economic livelihood in the longer term through tourism and greater use are absolutely vital.

JOURNALIST In fact you want more projects to start by June don't you, this year? How many more have you got in the pipeline? How many more will you announce between now and then?

GARRETT: We'll announce up to $6 million projects between now and June. That is the best way in which we can make sure that we're getting immediate take-up and economic and employment benefit for the dollars that are being invested.

JOURNALIST How many jobs will this create?

GARRETT: This will create about half a dozen immediate jobs with spin off jobs in terms of additional tourism support and facilitation in the longer term.

What I would say about today's decision is that it is recognising that this Government is willing to take the necessary steps to act immediately, to invest in our cultural heritage, but also to work with those people who are putting in place long term economic development opportunities for their people and for the community.

JOURNALIST Do the Greens deserve some of the credit for this?

GARRETT: Well look I acknowledge the fact that it was as a consequence of the negotiations with the Greens that there was an additional measure that came forward around the Jobs Fund, which included heritage. I have to say that we have laid the groundwork for recognising the necessity to invest in heritage for the period of time since this Government has been in office. I have said on repeated occasions that Australia's economic prosperity in the future and our sustainable economic growth is dependent on a range of important economic drivers and one of those is tourism and one of the important components of tourism is the recognition of our natural and our cultural heritage. Now we have got some significant World Heritage Listed places in this country and significant nationally listed places in this country as well, of which Budj Bim clearly is one.

JOURNALIST Is it a case of sort of righting what was misconceptions that you're talking as to how, or this communities place in terms of history - being nomadic versus a farming group.

GARRETT: Well what we see by Budj Bim receiving the first of these investments and being in fact the first place to be recognised on the National Heritage List, is an example of the earliest settler history in our country - not only permanent occupation but permanent dwellings - and sophisticated application of resources to have large scale fish farming enterprises which have obviously been undertaken over some time. And for someone who has traveled over much of the country - loves the country, has spent a lot of time hearing and walking with Indigenous Australians - to be able to see the fishtraps, how they've been created and constructed, and to know that there was significant economic activity being undertaken here in this region many thousands of years ago and we still have not only the linkages - direct linkages with the local communities, Gunditjmara and others - but also the opportunity for Australians to come and learn from, enjoy and recognise how critical and important this site is in our own history.

Okay, thanks everybody.


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