Democrats Heritage Plan Welcomed

October 29, 2001

National environment group, Friends of the Earth Australia (FoEA), has welcomed the launch of the Australian Democrats plan for heritage protection, released today in Warrnambool.

FoEA notes the intention to both strengthen and better co-ordinate national protection of Australia┬╣s cultural heritage.

A key issue relating to heritage protection at the federal level is that of Indigenous heritage. This largely occurs largely through the implementation of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Bill. The Democrats have responded to Indigenous concerns about the amendments to this Bill through:

  • a commitment to fully implement the Evatt Report recommendations;
  • a commitment to establish an Indigenous Advisory Council comprised of Indigenous people to advise on Indigenous heritage policy.

Both these would be a significant step forward in ensuring that Indigenous people have appropriate control over their cultural heritage. The 1998 Review of this Bill resulted in substantial de-evolution of responsibility from the Commonwealth to the States and Territories, and failed to adequately address the issue of Indigenous involvement in the identification and protection of places and objects of Indigenous cultural significance. The full implementation of the Evatt report would significantly raise the level of control able to be exercised by Indigenous people over their cultural heritage.

The Democrats are to be commended for this initiative.

FoEA also welcomes the Democrats call for an immediate application for World Heritage listing for Wilson┬╣s Promontory and Port Campbell. FoEA notes the consistent work by Lyn Allison in seeking protection for key world heritage sites under threat from projects approved by the current federal government, in particular the threat posed by the Jabiluka uranium mine to the Kakadu World Heritage area.

For further information contact:

Cam Walker
N ational Liaison Officer
Mob: 0419 338 047