West Kimberley National Heritage assessment
Australian Heritage Council
In accordance with a February 2008 agreement between the Commonwealth and Western Australian Governments, the former Australian Government Minister for Environment Protection, Heritage and the Arts requested the Australian Heritage Council to undertake an assessment of the possible National Heritage values of the west Kimberley. The Council has now completed both its preliminary and final assessments and has formally agreed that the west Kimberley has one or more National Heritage values.
What would National Heritage listing mean?
National Heritage listing would provide recognition of those places in the west Kimberley of outstanding heritage significance to Australia. The heritage assessment of the west Kimberley will help ensure heritage values are part of decision-making, so heritage protection is balanced with the social and economic aspirations of the Kimberley community.
Importantly, National Heritage listing does not change land ownership, and does not affect Native Title. Management of National Heritage listed places also remains with the current land owner or manager.
Should the area, or any part of it, be included in the National Heritage List, this would not affect current lawful use. For example, existing grazing would not be affected nor would previously approved mining and exploration activities, or recreation activities like fishing, camping or hiking, and any activities currently permitted under Native Title.
National Heritage listing would provide recognition and protection of any outstanding heritage values in the west Kimberley. It is these values, and not the entire listed place, that would be protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).
As required by sections 324JH(5) and 324JH(6) of the EPBC Act, the Australian Heritage Council sought comments between 25 March and the end of May 2010 from owners, occupiers and Indigenous people with a right or interest in the area identified by Council as potentially having National Heritage values on whether the west Kimberley, or any part of it, should be included in the National Heritage List. The public comment period has now closed.
Now that the assessment is complete, where to from here?
The Australian Heritage Council provided its assessment of the National Heritage values of the west Kimberley to the former Minister for Environment Protection, Heritage and the Arts on the 30 June 2010. The Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities had 90 business days from that date to make a decision on whether or not to include the west Kimberley, or any part of it, in the National Heritage List. Under the EPBC Act (s324JJ) the Minister also had the option to extend this time period.
The Minister has decided to extend the period in which to make a decision on whether to list the west Kimberley to 30 August 2011. A link to the decision can be found in the heritage notices listing.
- Heritage notice for the west Kimberley
- Media release: Deadline extended for West Kimberley National Heritage decision - 9 June 2011