Territory Stories

Parliamentary record : Part I debates (11 November 1986)



Parliamentary record : Part I debates (11 November 1986)


Debates for 4th Assembly 1983 - 1987; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 4th Assembly 1983 - 1987




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Northern Territory Legislative Assembly

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES - Tuesday 11 November 1986 any suggestions for World Heritage listing brought forward by other than a state or territory government to be referred, with supporting information, to the relevant state or territory government for comment prior to an examination by the Commonwealth. None of those procedures has been followed in the matter being brought before the World Heritage Committee in Paris later this month. This document, from which I have been quoting, has more to say about consultation: The Commonwealth government has indicated that it will not take unilateral action to nominate areas for World Heritage listing without the agreement of the state or territory concerned. In the government's view, such action, if it occurred, would be likely to lead to confrontation with states or territories which may well do more harm than good in the long run. The Commonwealth government is committed to the preservation of Australia's natural and cultural heritage and considers that this aim can best be achieved through cooperation and consultation rather than conflict and confrontation. This unilateral action is being taken. Where is the cooperation and consultation? Mr Speaker, I am afraid that it is the same story: lip service by the Commonwealth to consultation, but no results. The federal government must withdraw its stage 2 application if it is to retain any credibility at all with the Northern Territory people. As I have said, the Northern Territory government supported the World Heritage listing of stage 1. There are features of world importance in that part of the park, including 20 000 years or so of cultural heritage which are displayed in the Aboriginal art sites there. Also, we agree that some areas of Kakadu stage 2 may be considered worthy of listing, but I hasten to add that the vast majority of stage 2 is not in that category. Perhaps as much as 80% of stage 2 is unable to meet the strict criteria set down by the World Heritage Committee, and that is why the ANPWS and the federal government are trying to sneak the listing in through the back door by nominating it as an extension to the existing stage 1. They know that it will not stand up to a separate nomination. Once again, the interests of the Territory are being sacrificed on the altar of Canberra's political expediency. Mr Speaker, we have evidence that massive environmental damage has been caused in parts of stage 2 by buffalo, pigs, feral horses and even weed infestation. We know that the World Heritage Committee guards jealously the prestige attached to its listings and that it will be concerned that the currency not be devalued by the inclusion of substandard areas on its register. To quote the federal minister, Mr Cohen, at a news conference on 12 September 1984, the World Heritage List must remain an exclusive list of the world's natural and cultural treasures. Indeed, the list is so exclusive that only 216 places in the entire world had been listed by December last year. They include the pyramids of Egypt, the Grand Canyon in the United States, the Taj Mahal of India, Chartres Cathedral in France, and Sagarmatha National Park which contains Mount Everest. Stage 1 of Kakadu National Park may rank with these wonders of the world, but the savannah grasslands, buffalo-damaged bogs and scrub of stage 2 do not. To obtain listing an area must be outstanding. It must be exceptional and unique. The committee wants only the Rolls Royces of the world environment and cultural heritage. Kakadu stage 2 is the environmental equivalent of a clapped-out Holden, with most of the panel work damaged, the upholstery torn and the wheels falling off. Buffalo and feral pigs have trampled the 752

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