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 self-government in 1978. This allowed the ANPWS, under a new Labor government in 1984, to spread its tentacles into stage 2 of the park. By the way, the decision to declare stage 2 a national park was made without reference to the Northern Territory government. Now the ANPWS is gung-ho for World Heritage listing of the second stage, and it already has its avaricious sights set on the Gimbat and Goodparla pastoral properties for eventual inclusion in the park and, most likely, eventual World Heritage listing as well. All along the Kakadu road, the Commonwealth has spoken to the people of the Northern Territory with a forked tongue. I do not have the time to detail all of the sins of the federal government in this area, so I shall just use one example. It is one which, I can assure the Assembly, is fairly typical of our treatment by the Commonwealth. On 16 September this year, the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Environment, Mr Cohen, promised the Northern Territory that we would be consulted before any attempt was made to seek listing of stage 2. This is what he wrote to my Deputy Chief Minister: Should the Commonwealth decide to pursue World Heritage listing of the former stage 2 area, your government will be consulted in accordance with the Council of Nature Conservation Ministers (CONCOM) agreement prior to any approach being made to the World Heritage Secretariat in Paris. Mr Speaker, 24 hours later that promise was broken when the Commonwealth sent its submission to UNESCO for listing of stage 2. Just 24 hours: that is how long a promise of a minister of this discredited federal Labor government lasts, and the breaking of that promise was revealed only when some officers from Mr Cohen's own department were questioned by a Senate committee some days after the event. It is a fact that World Heritage listing of stage 2 is being sought without proper consultation with the Northern Territory and it is being done despite the concerns of the Northern Territory. This motion calls on the Commonwealth to withdraw the World Heritage listing because of the lack of consultation with the Northern Territory. The Commonwealth's attempt to obtain listing, without the agreement of the Northern Territory, flies completely in the face of a statement made by Mr Cohen during a speech to the 1985 Australian Environmental Law Symposium that 'if we are to ensure genuine protection of these unique areas, then we can and must do it with the cooperation of the state governments'. Also, it clearly breaks the agreement made between the federal government and the governments of all the states and the Northern Territory at the meeting of the Council of Nature Conservation Ministers in July 1984. I will quote from the Commonwealth's own document entitled 'Australia and the World Heritage Convention' which was prepared by the Department of Arts, Heritage and Environment as recently as February this year. The document says that the agreement is that: the Commonwealth government write to the state and territory governments inviting them to submit suggestions, with supporting information, for places to be examined with a view to possible future nomination to the World Heritage List; the Commonwealth government to arrange for the appropriate authorities to examine the places against"the stringent criteria for World Heritage listing; any consideration by the Commonwealth government of the issues to involve full consultation with the state and territory governments; and 751