House of Representatives Committees

INQUIRY INTO THE MANAGEMENT OF AUSTRALIA'S WORLD HERITAGE AREAS

GOVERNMENT RESPONSE

This is an HTML version of the Government Response which was tabled in the House of Representatives on Wednesday 8 April 1998.

October 1996 Report of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Environment, Recreation and the Arts: Managing Australia's World Heritage - Government Response

(1) That the World Heritage Properties Conservation Act 1983 be:

a) retained as the means by which the Commonwealth Government protects world heritage areas in those cases where other avenues fail to adequately achieve the objectives of protection and conservation;

Accepted in principle. The government has commenced a review of Commonwealth environmental legislation to examine the legislative means by which the Commonwealth's obligations may be most effectively met. It is the intention of the Government to retain legislative capacity to protect world heritage areas where other avenues fail to adequately achieve the objectives of conservation and protection. In the meantime, the Commonwealth will retain existing legislation that allows it to meet its obligations under the World Heritage Convention and to protect the World Heritage values of its listed properties

b) amended to include statements of the principles to be applied to the management of world heritage areas and definitions of the obligations and duties created by the World Heritage Convention; and

c) amended to provide the Minister with the power to set conditions on approvals, to enforce such conditions, and to enforce the provisions of the Act after a declaration has been made.

Noted. To be addressed in the review of Commonwealth environmental legislation. Any changes which are made to the Act would need to be framed so as to remain within the legislative powers of the Commonwealth.

(2) That the administration of the World Heritage Properties Conservation Act be delegated to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority in relation to those parts of the Great Barrier Reef world heritage area outside the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

The issue of delegation possibilities in relation to administration is still the subject of on-going negotiations between the Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the Attorney-General's Department. The Queensland Government will be consulted in the development of any new arrangements.

(3) That the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority be the administration agency, as far as the Commonwealth Government's role is concerned, for all world heritage aspects of the entire Great Barrier Reef world heritage area.

Accepted. This arrangement has now been formalised in a Memorandum of Understanding between the Commonwealth and Queensland Governments.

(4) That the memorandum of understanding between the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the Commonwealth Environment Protection Agency regarding the administration of the Environment Protection (Impact of Proposals) Act 1974 be reviewed to ensure that the Act's environment assessment requirements and processes are harmonised with the management processes applied in the marine park and that the Authority has a role in assessing any proposals that may affect the world heritage area.

The issues raised by the recommendation will be addressed in the review of Commonwealth environmental legislation. Assessments under Commonwealth legislation will draw on the expertise of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. Departmental administrative procedures were established in 1996 to ensure co-operative Commonwealth arrangements for the protection and management of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage property, including environmental impact assessment.

(5) That the Commonwealth Government seek the agreement of the Government of Queensland to a joint review of the boundary of the Great Barrier Reef world heritage area and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park with a view to aligning the two.

Accepted in principle.

(6) That pending the alignment of the boundaries of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and the world heritage area, the Commonwealth Government seek the agreement of the Government of Queensland to the development of management plans that recognise and protect the world heritage values and status of those parts of the world heritage area not in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Accepted. Steps are already underway to achieve this outcome.

(7) That the Environment Protection (Impact of Proposals) Act 1974 be amended to provide that:

a) an environmental assessment be required when there is the possibility that a proposed action will damage the world heritage values of a listed world heritage area; and

b) the duties imposed by the World Heritage Convention be required to be addressed in any environmental impact statement relating to a proposed development likely to affect a world heritage area.

Noted. These issues are being addressed through the review of Commonwealth environmental legislation, currently underway.

(8) That the Commonwealth Government seek the cooperation of the State and Territory Governments in a comprehensive review of all relevant State and Territory legislation that is relied upon to provide regulatory and management provision for the protection and conservation of world heritage areas.

This review will identify the need for amendments that will lead to consistent and effective arrangements for all world heritage areas having regard to Australia's international obligations.

Accepted in principle. The Government will undertake this review in consultation with the States and it is intended that this occur, as an initial step, through the recently established Commonwealth-State policy consultative group on World Heritage.

(9) That the Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories pursue the implementation of consistent management arrangements for all Australia's world heritage areas.

These arrangements should include Ministerial Councils (either property based, State wide, or multiple State as appropriate), community advisory committees, and scientific/technical advisory committees, and be tailored to the needs of individual properties and States.

Accepted. The government's policy is to work in partnership with the states and local communities to implement management arrangements and structures which meet Australia's obligations under the Convention to protect and preserve our World Heritage properties. Such structures will, as appropriate, include Ministerial Councils, community consultative bodies and scientific advisory groups. This policy will be pursued with the states both bilaterally and multilaterally in the context of implementing the governmentís Natural Heritage Trust program.

Kakadu, Uluru-Kata Tjuta and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, being directly managed by the Commonwealth, already have appropriate management and consultative arrangements, namely Boards of Management comprising traditional owners, tourism, conservation and Commonwealth representatives, and supporting consultative and advisory committees.

(10) That the Australian Nature Conservation Agency:

(a) urgently introduce measures to improve its relationship with the Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife Commission at both the local level and at the senior executive level; and

Accepted. The Director of National Parks and Wildlife and the head of the Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife Commission met in January 1997 and discussed improving the relationship between the organisations, and such meetings are also being held at the local staff level, to increase cooperation and involvement in a range of management issues.

(b) subject to the agreement of the traditional owners, the Australian Nature Conservation Agency seek, as an initial measure, to negotiate a memorandum of understanding that provides for increased cooperation with, and involvement of, the Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife Commission in the management of Kakadu and Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Parks.

Accepted in principle. To be addressed through liaison with appropriate Land Councils and the NT Government. The Director of National Parks and Wildlife has recently been appointed to the Board of the Parks and Wildlife Commission of the NT and the matter of expanding the Kakadu and Uluru Boards to include appropriate representation of the NT Government is being investigated in cooperation with traditional owners.

(11) That the Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories, in consultation with managing agencies, introduce effective consultative mechanisms with all stakeholders in world heritage areas, within one year of the tabling of this report.

Accepted in principle. The Commonwealth will work in partnership with the States and local communities to implement management arrangements and structures which meet Australia's obligations under the Convention to protect and preserve our World Heritage properties. Such structures will, as appropriate, include Ministerial Councils, community consultative bodies and scientific advisory groups

The Commonwealth is currently pursuing the establishment of consultative committees for all World Heritage properties. Such committees provide an effective mechanism for consultation and will remain in place beyond the planning cycle. Community Consultative Committees exist for all Australian World Heritage Areas except for the Central Eastern Rainforest Reserves and Lord Howe Island. It should also be noted that Kakadu and Uluru already have consultative mechanisms in place which have firm legal bases in legislation and in leases between traditional owners and the Director of National Parks and Wildlife.

Extensive community consultation is costly, particularly in relation to the more remote World Heritage properties. The financial and, where appropriate, security implications of consultative processes must be recognised, and considered within the context of Government priorities and available resources.

(12) That the Commonwealth Government ensure that consultation with communities occurs early in the world heritage listing process and continues after listing.

Accepted. With regard to prospective World Heritage Areas, the Commonwealth is bound under Schedule 8 of the Intergovernmental Agreement on the Environment (IGAE) to consult relevant States at an early stage regarding nominations.

The Commonwealth is currently pursuing the establishment of consultative committees for all World Heritage properties. Such committees provide an effective mechanism for consultation and will remain in place beyond the planning cycle. Community Consultative Committees exist for all Australian World Heritage Areas except for the Central Eastern Rainforest Reserves and Lord Howe Island.

(13) That the Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories compile and disseminate information on best practice in consultation for world heritage management.

Accepted. These matters will be taken forward through Environment Australiaís on-going program of consultation with the States and Territories. In particular, this will be implemented through holding regular managers workshops which are an effective means of sharing information on all aspects of best practice management approaches. In 1997, a program of workshops for World Heritage policy-makers in Commonwealth and State governments has been introduced to enhance communication of these principles.

(14) That the Commonwealth Government encourage managing agencies to review the involvement of indigenous people in the management of world heritage areas where they have continuing, traditional associations, with a view to:

a) identifying additional measures for their involvement; and

b) implementing these measures.

Accepted in principle. This will be pursued as a priority, through the program of development of consultative arrangements. Implementation of this issue does tend to be property specific. At present, Kakadu and Uluru Kata Tjuta have high and increasing levels of indigenous involvement in their management and are jointly managed with Aboriginal landowners. The Tasmanian Wilderness and the Willandra Lakes Region also have arrangements in place for indigenous participation in their management. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has an indigenous cultural liaison unit which is achieving significant and increasing involvement of people in planning and management. A review of Aboriginal involvement in the management of the Wet Tropics is currently being undertaken by the Wet Tropics Management Authority.

(15) That the Commonwealth Government ensure that management plans are in place before properties are nominated for world heritage listing.

Accepted in principle. This recommendation is generally consistent with existing government policy. The Commonwealth will strive to reach agreement on management arrangements with the relevant States before a nomination proceeds. The nominations for Heard and McDonald Islands and Macquarie submitted by this government on 26 June 1996 were accompanied by comprehensive plans of management.

The Commonwealth sees considerable benefit in developing management plans within an established management regime. This ensures that management plans are prepared with appropriate stakeholder involvement, have the support of both State and Commonwealth governments, and are consistent with overall strategic objectives, particularly regarding the protection of World Heritage values.

(16) That the Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories give priority to assisting the States to complete outstanding management plans for their world heritage areas without further delay.

Accepted. Completion of outstanding plans of management will be given high priority in the context of implementing the governmentís Natural Heritage Trust program. The Department is currently assisting State Governments to develop strategic plans for the Shark Bay, Lord Howe Island Group, Riversleigh and the Central Eastern Rainforest Reserves World Heritage properties. The strategic planning process is an important preliminary step in the development of management plans.

Where management plans are considered to be particularly relevant to the protection and management of World Heritage values, the Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories will consider providing assistance to State Governments to complete these plans, subject to Commonwealth priorities and availability of resources. Ultimately, the provision of financial resources for management planning will be negotiated with States within the context of a financial agreement.

(17) That the Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories ensure that the management plans for world heritage areas are based on the protection of their world heritage values.

Accepted. Current best practice is to acknowledge and manage all wider conservation values contained within a property. The government endorses this approach but accepts that the protection, conservation and presentation of World Heritage values must have primacy. This principle will be pursued through consultative processes established for each property.

Ensuring that management plans adequately identify World Heritage values and provide for their management and protection is, and will continue to be, an objective of the Commonwealth noting, however, that the preparation of such plans is primarily the responsibility of State Governments. Additionally, best conservation practice provides that management plans for parks and reserves that are World Heritage areas should also address other issues and values of particular properties in addition to their World Heritage values .

(18) That the Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories:

(a) consult with the managing agencies of world heritage areas to establish whether regional and/or strategic plans would be of value in managing world heritage areas where such plans do not exist; and

Accepted in principle. The Commonwealth notes that the states have a strong interest in the development of regional and strategic plans as a context for protected area management. This matter will be explored in the context of implementing the government's Natural Heritage Trust program and through the consultative processes established for each property.

(b) provide assistance in the preparation of such plans where they are regarded as useful management tools.

Accepted in principle. The Department is currently assisting State Governments to develop strategic plans for the Shark Bay, Lord Howe Island Group, Riversleigh, and the Central Eastern Rainforest Reserves World Heritage properties. The strategic planning process is an important preliminary step in the development of management plans. At present, the need for strategic plans in other existing properties has not be identified.

The allocation of funding towards the preparation of strategic and/or regional plans is subject to the Commonwealth's priorities and availability of resources. Ultimately, the provision of financial assistance for strategic or regional planning would be considered in the context of a financial agreement.

(19) That the Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories ensure that world heritage area management plans are reviewed every five years.

Accepted in principle. This matter will be pursued with the states through the consultative processes established for each property. The government will seek appropriate fixed-term review clauses in all new plans of management from 1997 and in all existing plans at the time of their next scheduled review. Under present arrangements, Tasmania, Kakadu and Uluru Kata Tjuta already have new plans of management every five years. At the last Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area Ministerial Council meeting on 14 March 1997, it was agreed that the new plan of management, scheduled for completion in 1997-98, should be reviewed and revised as necessary every five years.

(20) That management planning include extensive consultation with all stakeholders at all stages in the planning cycle.

Accepted in principle. The Commonwealth recognises the importance of appropriate stakeholder consultation throughout the management planning process. The Commonwealth is currently pursuing the establishment of consultative committees for all World Heritage properties. Such committees provide an effective mechanism for consultation and will remain in place beyond the planning cycle.

As noted previously, the preparation of management plans is primarily the responsibility of State Governments (except in relation to Commonwealth-managed properties). The requirements for public consultation are provided for in the relevant State legislation. Where possible, management plans are prepared with the involvement of the community and scientific advisory committees established for each World Heritage property. This approach was successfully undertaken in the Willandra Lakes Region, and is being pursued for the Tasmanian Wilderness and the Lord Howe Island Group. For Uluru Kata Tjuta and Kakadu, the management planning processes under the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 1975 require extensive consultation before plans are prepared and at the draft plan stage.

Extensive community consultation is costly, particularly in relation to the more remote World Heritage properties. The financial and, where appropriate, security implications of consultative processes must be recognised, and considered within the context of Government priorities and available resources.

(21) That the Commonwealth Government allocate funds to assist with the detailed definition of the world heritage values of each property for use in management planning.

Accepted in principle. The Government agrees to the need for ongoing monitoring and periodic review of the values of World Heritage properties. A redefinition of the values of the Great Barrier Reef was completed in 1996. Subject to resources being available and in the context of competing Government priorities, studies of the values of other properties will be progressed over the next five years commencing in 1996/97. Priorities will be determined in consultation with State governments taking account of the time elapsed since listing, the nature and quality of relevant available research and information, and relevant management considerations.

(22) That when the world heritage values of an area are updated, the boundaries of that area be examined to establish whether they are appropriate for the protection of the values.

The appropriateness of the boundaries should be judged in terms of whether they are sufficient to protect the values and whether they include unnecessary tracts of land.

Accepted in principle. Boundary changes will only be considered where they are fully consistent with best practice management and, following full consultations, have the support of the community and relevant state governments. Any boundary changes would also be subject to the consideration of the World Heritage Committee.

(23) That the Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories work with the Department of Primary Industries and Energy and State fisheries agencies to support research on the impact of fishing on world heritage values.

Accepted in principle. The World Heritage Unit has been actively involved in inter-departmental fora dedicated to setting directions for fisheries research in relation to the sub-Antarctic islands. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has a continuing program which ensures that major fishing issues in the World Heritage Area are addressed in conjunction with other agencies. World Heritage management agencies also need to be involved in setting the directions of fisheries research relevant to particular properties.

(24) That the Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories' World Heritage Unit sponsor a review of the links between world heritage and appropriate forms of tourism in all Australia's world heritage areas, with a view to:

a) identifying the best ways of managing visitors;

b) producing guidelines for the management of tourist visitation to world heritage areas; and

c) encouraging the provision of appropriate tourist infrastructure such as pathways, board walks, floating barges, and information centres.

Accepted in principle. The Government supports this objective but recognises that the successful completion of such a review will be subject to comprehensive negotiations with the States, the tourism industry and local indigenous communities. As part of this process, visitor management and tourist infrastructure will be addressed on a property-by-property basis in the development, implementation and review of plans of management for each property (see response to recommendation 15).

(25) That the Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories encourage the managers of world heritage areas to implement permit systems that are simple, streamlined, and transparent.

Accepted in principle. These matters will be taken forward through Environment Australia's on-going program of regular manager workshops which are an effective means of sharing information on best-practice management approaches. In 1997, a program of workshops for World Heritage policy-makers in Commonwealth and State governments has been introduced to enhance communication of these principles.

(26) That the Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories, encourage management agencies:

a) to foster the public's compliance with regulations relating to the activities permitted in world heritage areas through education and persuasion as their preferred approach; but

b) to rigorously enforce regulations when necessary.

Accepted in principle. These matters will be taken forward through Environment Australia's on-going program of regular manager workshops in the context of sharing information on best-practice management approaches, including regulation, education, incentives and other means of achieving management objectives. In 1997, a program of workshop for World Heritage policy-makers in Commonwealth and State governments has been introduced to enhance communication of these principles.

(27) That the Commonwealth Government finalise, without further delay, joint agreements on world heritage area management plans and arrangements with those States with which agreements have yet to be signed.

Accepted. Completion of such agreements is a high priority for the government. Agreements with all States, covering all properties, will be negotiated in the context of implementing the government's Natural Heritage Trust program. Kakadu and Uluru Kata Tjuta and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, being directly managed by the Commonwealth, already have appropriate management and consultative arrangements, namely Boards of Management comprising traditional owners, tourism, conservation and Commonwealth representatives, and supporting consultative and advisory committees.

(28) That the Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories encourage managing agencies to seek the most effective means for the supply of services in world heritage areas, such as contracting and market testing.

Accepted. The government will develop and disseminate policies on the most effective means to deliver and supply services in World Heritage areas.

These matters will also be taken forward in part in the implementation of the Natural Heritage Trust and through Environment Australia's on-going program of regular manager workshops in the context of sharing information on best-practice management approaches. Ultimately, however, primary responsibility for management lies with the relevant state agency and it is the agency which must judge the most cost-effective means for the supply of services.

In 1997, a program of workshop for World Heritage policy-makers in Commonwealth and State governments has been introduced to enhance communication of these principles. In Kakadu and Uluru Kata Tjuta, there are obligations to encourage Aboriginal enterprises.

(29) That the Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories consult with all stakeholders in world heritage area management on:

(a) possible ways of involving the private sector to a greater extent in the provision of infrastructure, works and services and their management; and

(b) the regulatory mechanisms needed to guide and control that involvement.

Accepted. Private sector involvement will be pursued on a property-by-property basis, in the context of the plan of management for each property, and through the relevant consultative arrangements established for each property. In Kakadu and Uluru Kata Tjuta, there are obligations to encourage Aboriginal enterprises. These matters will also be addressed in the development of policies on the most effective means to deliver services in World Heritage areas.

(30) That before agreeing to world heritage area management plans, the Commonwealth Government ensure that the management processes include annual monitoring of the status of world heritage values.

Accepted in principle. To be pursued through Environment Australia's general involvement with the States in developing or reviewing management plans. However, it is not intended that there be a thorough review of each and every aspect of the status of values every year. For example, in the case of a World Heritage property the size of the Great Barrier Reef, this is not practicable. The intention of monitoring is to provide management information as well as to report on the status of the World Heritage values of the property. It is envisaged that a small number of key indicators be identified and then constantly monitored and reported upon annually, and a range of other matters be progressively monitored in greater detail and reported on (only some each year).

(31) That the Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories, in consultation with managing agencies, monitor the status of world heritage values as defined in management plans.

The use of the word "monitor" in this recommendation is ambiguous. The Government accepts the view in the body of the report that the key role of Environment Australia is to facilitate and overview the monitoring process, not to undertake monitoring per se. The Government agrees with the Report's conclusion that Environment Australia should assist managing agencies by providing an overall framework and guidelines, and by overseeing the monitoring undertaken by managing agencies. In addition, Environment Australia provides the necessary link to the monitoring development and standard setting activity of the World Heritage Committee. That activity provides the first basis of a monitoring framework but there needs to be considerable national activity to develop the World Heritage Committee's very generalised requirements to suit each country's particular circumstances.

The issue of monitoring will be considered in the program of workshops with State officials, introduced in 1997. We envisage that these workshops will provide an opportunity to discuss roles and the broad methodological approach to monitoring.

(32) That the Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories, in consultation with managing agencies:

a) establish guidelines for monitoring and reporting on all world heritage properties; and

Accepted - see response to Recommendation 31 above.

b) review monitoring and reporting guidelines every five years and revise them as necessary.

Accepted. A review and revision will be undertaken with managing agencies on a five-yearly basis.

(33) That the Commonwealth Government require managing agencies to include in their annual world heritage reports to the Commonwealth Government information on :

a) their monitoring arrangements and the results of monitoring strategies; and

Accepted. The annual reporting of monitoring processes and outcomes is supported as a strong and necessary element of public accountability and awareness raising. Such reporting is also an essential part of sound management information for the property. The details of reporting will be discussed as part of the development of monitoring guidelines, and will also be linked to current attention being paid to upgrading the World Heritage publicity program.

b) how Commonwealth Government world heritage funds are being used.

Accepted. Financial accountability for use of Commonwealth funds is already built into contractual arrangements but better and wider reporting of the objectives and outcomes will be pursued as part of the financial agreements processes.

(34) That the Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories, in consultation with managing agencies, develop standards for the presentation of world heritage areas.

These presentation standards should reflect the international significance and universal heritage value of the sites.

Accepted in principle. The government agrees that best-practice presentation should be an integral part of best-practice management. The government will work with the states to ensure that presentation programs reflect World Heritage consistently, prominently and accurately, and that presentation programs are also appropriate to particular properties in style and content. These matters will be taken forward through Environment Australia's on-going program of consultation with the States and Territories. In particular this will be through holding regular manager workshops, in the context of sharing information on best-practice management approaches. In 1997, a program of workshops for World Heritage policy-makers in Commonwealth and State governments has been introduced to enhance communication of these principles. The Government also considers that the involvement of the tourism industry will be integral to the development of appropriate presentation standards.

(35) That the Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories, in consultation with managing agencies, develop standards for educating the Australian community about world heritage values.

Accepted in principle. These matters will be taken forward through Environment Australia's on-going program of consultation with the States and Territories. In particular this will be through holding regular manager workshops, which are an effective means of sharing information on best-practice management approaches. In 1997, a program of workshops for World Heritage policy-makers in Commonwealth and State governments has been introduced to enhance communication of these principles.

(36) That the Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories, working with managing agencies and in consultation with local indigenous people, develop strategies for educating the community about the association of indigenous people with local world heritage areas.

Accepted in principle. These matters will be taken forward through Environment Australia's on-going program of consultation with the States and Territories. In particular this will be through holding regular manager workshops, which are an effective means of sharing information on best-practice management approaches. In 1997, a program of workshops for World Heritage policy-makers in Commonwealth and State governments has been introduced to enhance communication of these principles.

(37) That the Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories, in conjunction with the Department of Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs, give a high priority to the training of high quality staff and providing additional funding for the initial and ongoing training of guides operating in world heritage areas.

Noted. These matters will be taken forward through Environment Australiaís on-going program of consultation with the States and Territories on funding and management arrangements. In particular this will be through holding regular manager workshops, which are an effective means of sharing information on best-practice management approaches. In 1997, a program of workshops for World Heritage policy-makers in Commonwealth and State governments has been introduced to enhance communication of these principles.

The Commonwealth does not allocate vocational education and training funds to specific training programs. Commonwealth funding is allocated to the States and territories by the Australian National Training Authority. This funding is designed to assist the States and Territories to achieve the agreed national objectives. The allocation of funds to specific training programs is a matter decided by the State and Territory Training Authorities. The government will also consider training in the context of developing policies on the most effective means to deliver and supply services in World Heritage areas.

(38) That the Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories:

a) work with managing agencies to encourage the formation of volunteer support groups for world heritage areas; and

b) assist managing agencies to more fully utilise and develop volunteers in presenting, and educating the public about, world heritage.

Accepted in principle. This matter will require further discussions with the States to determine resource and other implications. A necessary prerequisite would be the establishment of management agreements and plans of management for the respective properties. The possible negative consequences of placing pressure on communities for volunteers or of not providing adequate administrative support for volunteers should be noted.

(39) That the Commonwealth Government urge managing agencies to:

a) provide signage with the world heritage emblem and explanatory text at all major access points to world heritage properties; and

b) incorporate the world heritage emblem in all interpretive and directional signs in world heritage areas.

Accepted. This will require further discussions with the States to determine resource and other implications. Implementation will not be uniform across World Heritage Areas in either time or scope. Presentation must also be appropriate to particular properties in style and content.

(40) That the Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories ensure that there is a significant visitor information centre in each world heritage area and, in the larger areas, a centre at each major entry point.

Accepted in principle, in terms of a visitor centre for each World Heritage Area. This will be subject to the development of management plans and facilities in remote World Heritage Areas.

The recommendation that a visitor centre be established at every major entry point causes some difficulties. This will not be feasible, for example, in World Heritage areas where there are many major entry points (eg. the Wet Tropics) or appropriate for other properties (eg. the Riversleigh visitor centre is appropriately located at Mt Isa). In the case of the Great Barrier Reef, the number of entry points is so great that a strategy of provision of visitor information through the Queensland Department of Environment is in place. However, the Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories will work to ensure that principal entry points do have significant and accessible visitor information.

(41) That the Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories initiate a review of visitor centres and other major visitor education facilities to determine priorities for funding further development and refurbishment.

Accepted in principle. In order to avoid an arbitrary process, such a review also needs be linked to a review of World Heritage plans of management which would help with the determination of respective funding priorities in relation to suitable visitor centres and education facilities.

(42) That Commonwealth Government funding for State-managed world heritage areas be provided to improve facilities and standards of management but only as a supplement to that provided by the States.

The Committee's view is that State Governments should continue to fund world heritage areas at least at the levels that existed prior to world heritage listing, and the Commonwealth Government's role should be to supplement State funding.

Accepted. This is consistent with the position of the Government and will be pursued in negotiations with the States over the establishment of funding agreements for individual World Heritage properties.

(43) That the Commonwealth Government ensure that, with all future nominations of properties for world heritage listing, funding agreements are finalised before the properties are nominated for listing.

Accepted in principle. The Commonwealth will strive to reach such agreements.

(44) That the Commonwealth Government move immediately to finalise financial agreements or memoranda of understanding for the world heritage properties in Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, and New South Wales, with the governments of these States.

Accepted. Discussions are taking place with Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australian officials to complete financial agreements. Discussions are yet to commence with South Australia concerning the Naracoorte component of the Australian Fossil Mammal Sites World Heritage property.

(45) That the Commonwealth Government provide additional funds for the protection, conservation and presentation of world heritage areas.

$20.6 million should be provided in the first year and $16 million per annum thereafter.

Accepted in part. Funding for World Heritage properties will be determined by the government in the context of the Budget. The Government recognises the need to improve the management of World Heritage properties and has committed additional funds from the Natural Heritage Trust for this purpose. The government considers that funding arrangements for each property need to be based on specific requirements determined in the context of management plans and financial agreements for each World Heritage area.

The Government considers that the States should share the responsibility for providing additional funding, as referred to in paragraph 7.62 of the HORSCERA Report.

The Government notes that in 1995-96, the former Government provided approximately $10 million for the 8 state-managed world heritage areas. In 1996-97, the Howard Government provided $11 million for these areas. In 1997-98, $18 million has been provided by the Howard Government. This demonstrates the Howard Government's commitment to increased funding.

(46) That the Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories, in consultation with world heritage area management authorities, identify and quantify specific additional funding needs in each of the world heritage areas as a basis for allocating the additional funds.

Noted. Funding priorities are largely determined by the provisions of management plans. Furthermore, the identification of funding needs for World Heritage properties is regularly carried out by such means as the annual Commonwealth/State World Heritage managers' workshop and the Commonwealth/State management committees.

(47) That the Commonwealth Government give a high priority to working with the Queensland Government to finalise a financial agreement for the Fraser Island world heritage area.

Accepted. Negotiations have commenced to this end. In June 1997, the first meeting of the Fraser Island Ministerial Council occurred.

(48) That the Commonwealth Government:

a) make funds available without further delay to provide adequate protection to the world heritage values of the Riversleigh Fossil Site; and

Noted. An additional $185 000 was provided by the government in 1996/97 for World Heritage management at Riversleigh. Further work has commenced to identify specific projects in the event that additional funds become available.

b) give high priority to finalising a funding agreement with the Queensland Government for the management and development of the Riversleigh world heritage area.

Accepted. A financial agreement to cover the Riversleigh site will be included in overall negotiations on funding of all Queensland World Heritage properties.

(49) That the Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories, in cooperation with world heritage managing agencies, regularly review the adequacy of funding provided for each world heritage area.

Accepted. This is carried out regularly as part of Commonwealth/State management arrangements.

(50) That the Commonwealth Government, in cooperation with the State Governments where appropriate, provide compensation in cases of substantial disturbance to individuals and businesses as a result of the ongoing management of world heritage areas.

Noted. Compensation arrangements should be addressed by the Commonwealth, relevant States and stakeholders in the context of negotiations on the preparation of nominations and future management and financial arrangements for the property, or prior to any redefinition of World Heritage boundaries or values.

Compensation should not be provided to affected parties in relation to activities which are part of the on-going management of a given World Heritage area under an agreed management plan. Where the Commonwealth or a State exercises power to prevent actions permitted under an agreed management plan, or initiates actions that are not part of the agreed management plan or funding arrangements, the instigating party should make financial arrangements with affected parties in appropriate cases. Compensation should be determined on a case-by-case basis. Any Commonwealth contribution would be limited to its Constitutional liabilities.

(51) That funds raised from a world heritage area be spent on projects to benefit the management of that area, including necessary work outside the area.

The Government supports the view that funds raised from a World Heritage area should, as far as practicable, be spent on management of that area. This principle is being pursued in the development of formal funding arrangements with the States. The Government may consider joint funding arrangements for projects outside a World Heritage property where there is clearly a direct benefit to management of the area in terms of meeting Australia's obligations under the World Heritage Convention. However, as a general rule, the government considers that responsibility for funding and managing infrastructure outside a World Heritage property lies with the relevant government agencies. It should be noted that a proportion of funds raised in some World Heritage areas may also be payable to traditional owners of the land.

(52) That a joint State/Commonwealth review of the fees applied to all users of the Great Barrier Reef Region should be carried out, and recommendations made for a more equitable system of charging users that is tied to the cost of managing their impact on the Reef.

The Government supports the view that mechanisms for user charging should, as far as practicable, incorporate the principle of equity. Any charging regime would also need to be consistent with Australia's obligations under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and other relevant international conventions.

(53) That the Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories co-ordinate a broad-based review of user fees in world heritage areas with a view to recommending general principles for their introduction and administration and how fee levels should be set.

Among other matters, this review should consider:

a) the appropriate balance of government and user contributions to world heritage management;

b) the desirability of linking user fee levels with the costs of managing user impacts;

c) the impact of higher fees on international and domestic tourism; and

d) equity of access to world heritage areas and possible measures whereby equitable access can be assured.

The issue of user fees is being considered by the Government which is taking into account issues such as those suggested in the Report.

(54) That world heritage managers be encouraged to seek sympathetic financial sponsorship for appropriate projects.

Accepted. It should be stressed, however, that any such sponsorship must not compromise World Heritage values in any way. This matter will be taken up in discussions with senior policy officials from World Heritage property management agencies in the context of developing formal funding arrangements and best practice management. It will also be examined by the government in the development of policies on the most effective means for the delivery and supply of services in World Heritage areas.


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