Death of the National Heritage Program
Humane Society International (HSI) Director, Michael Kennedy today called upon both major political parties “to prioritise and reinvigorate Australia’s National Heritage Program, and to ensure that the Commonwealth maintains legislative responsibility for the National Heritage List.”
“Without this action, we will witness the death of the National Heritage Program in this country,” said Mr Kennedy.
Mr Kennedy said, “The Coalition Party has now promised to devolve the Commonwealth’s environment powers to the states and territories, leaving National Heritage listed places at the mercy of state governments preoccupied with satisfying global mining companies and stifling public comment and access to the courts.”
Mr Kennedy continued, “While a future Rudd Government has promised to retain those Commonwealth powers to protect National Heritage places, it has also neglected to build a comprehensive range of nationally significant natural heritage areas. Apart from the laudable listing of the West Kimberley, additions of natural areas to the National Heritage List have virtually come to a grinding halt.”
HSI has made a number of critical scientific nominations for the National Heritage listing of iconic Australian habitats, including Lake Eyre and Elliot Price Conservation Park; Cooper Creek sub-catchment; Great Western Woodlands; Paroo River Catchment; Great Western Tiers; Daintree Lowland Rainforest; Cape York Peninsula; Tarkine; Brisbane Water & Bouddi National Parks; Barrow Island and its surrounding waters; and Australia's Antarctic Territory/Antarctic Whale Sanctuary.
“Many of these places were prioritised for assessment by the Australian Heritage Council back in 2004 – but we still await environmental protective action on all of them – after nearly 10 years,” said Mr Kennedy.
“Unless the Coalition and Australian Labor Party make specific promises to fully fund and bolster this national program and, crucially, the Coalition reverses its decision to devolve Commonwealth powers over National Heritage to the states and territories, then this iconic initiative and its special places will be in immense jeopardy,” concluded Mr Kennedy