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Senate Estimates: Royal National Park and World Heritage Listing

Estimates & Committees
Lee Rhiannon 7 Nov 2017

On Monday,  23 October 2017, Lee asked the following questions of Mr David Williams, Assistant Secretary, Heritage Branch as part Senate Estimates hearings by the Environment and Communications Legislation Committee 

Royal National Park and World Heritage Listing

Senator RHIANNON: Thanks. I want to ask about the World Heritage listing of Royal National Park. That's how it seems to be between New South Wales and the federal government—passing the buck. Where is the Royal National Park World Heritage listing up to?

Mr Williams: The issue of the potential listing of Royal National Park and royal reserves is an issue for the New South Wales government about whether they propose that place for world heritage listing. The arrangements between the Commonwealth and state governments that have been in place for some time now set out the responsibilities of the Commonwealth government as the state party and state governments. Quite often, where they're place owners or managers—and that's the case with the Royal National Park—they have responsibility for nominating places to go on the tentative list and to do the assessment work behind such a nomination.

Senator RHIANNON: Thanks very much, Mr Williams. I think I've got a similar answer at probably two, three or four estimates lately. Does the federal government do anything at all? Seriously, do you leave it totally up to the New South Wales government? That is what it sounds like. That's the case, is it?

Mr Williams: This is an issue that comes up in our consultation with states and territories nationwide about which places are being proposed by state governments for nomination for the tentative list and then the work to be done behind them. The Royal National Park is in the hands of the New South Wales government at the moment. We work with state governments on their nominations pretty intensively and we're doing so at the moment with the nomination that's being prepared that is on the tentative list that we're looking at submitting shortly. So state governments have an important role to play.

Senator RHIANNON: Yes, I'm certainly not denying that, but considering that this has dragged on now for years and it is the same response, does a point come where the federal government makes a judgement, particularly like in the case of the Royal National Park—the first or second national park in the world, with a lot of things that are very significant when you come to judge heritage—does a point come when the federal government recognises that the state government isn't advancing something that's needed and then takes steps to ensure it happens?

Mr Williams: The issue with the Royal National Park is that the state has a number of roles to play there, both as the government of the state in which the place is situated and also the place owner and manager. It is their responsibility about whether they're going proceed to nominate such a place for world heritage listing.

Senator RHIANNON: Have you done anything, written or verbal, to ask the New South Wales government where the process is up to and whether they're going to submit their proposal; or do you just wait for the New South Wales government?

Mr Williams: We have consultations with all state governments on a regular basis about the places that they are proposing to put forward for nomination for World Heritage listing, and that is the case with New South Wales about places within New South Wales that they may be wanting to work on nominations for.

Senator RHIANNON: Can you take on notice the date of that meeting when you had those discussions. And was Royal National Park and the associated reserves raised in that discussion? If so, what was the outcome.

Mr Williams: Yes.

Senator RHIANNON: Can you put those three aspects on notice?

Mr Williams: Yes.

Senator RHIANNON: Thank you.

CHAIR: Thank you, Senator Rhiannon. Senator Whish-Wilson until 12.30.

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