Senate debates

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Australian Heritage Buildings

4:44 pm

Photo of Christine MilneChristine Milne (Tasmania, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That the Senate—
notes the:
value and importance to the cultural landscape of Australia of its estimated 15 000 architectural heritage buildings, almost a third of which are in Tasmania,
dismantling of the independent Australian Heritage Commission, the relegation of the Register of the National Estate to state oversight and the subsequent downgrading of heritage issues at the federal level,
need for urgent repairs to some of Australia’s most significant heritage buildings, and
threat to one specific example, being the Holy Trinity Church in Hobart, designed by convict architect James Blackburn, which faces closure and an uncertain future because the Anglican Church cannot afford the cost of sandstone renovation work; and
calls on the Government to allocate monies in the form of a National Cultural Heritage Fund, along the same lines as the Higher Education Endowment Fund, to ensure that Australia’s culturally significant heritage buildings are adequately maintained into the future.

Question put.

4:47 pm

Photo of Eric AbetzEric Abetz (Tasmania, Liberal Party, Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation) Share this | | Hansard source

I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a brief statement as to why government senators oppose that motion.

Leave granted.

The statement read as follows—

The Australian Government recognises and values Australia’s architectural and other heritage, however, this motion fails to recognise the shared responsibility for heritage and the woefully inadequate funding provide by State Labor governments around the country to support and manage places on State heritage lists.

The functions of the former Australian Heritage Commission continued to be performed within the Department of the Environment and Water Resources - these functions have not been abolished as stated in this misleading motion. The Register of the National Estate has been replaced by the National and Commonwealth Heritage lists which confer recognition and protection to places that truly meet national criteria for heritage listing. The protection accorded to places on those lists far exceeds that provided under the old Register of the National Estate.

It is time for State Labor Governments to step up to the plate and provide the resources needed to protect places under their own legislation.

The Australian Government continues to invest in the protection of heritage listed places, including places of worship; however it is my understanding that the Government has not been approached by the parish of the Holy Trinity Church, Hobart.