Inquiry into the conservation of australia's historic built heritage places

НазваниеInquiry into the conservation of australia's historic built heritage places
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(08) 8212 3699

(03) 6224 2499

(03) 9670 6989

(08) 9325 4577

(02) 9211 4077




DR N. BYRON, Presiding Commissioner,

MR T. HINTON, Commissioner



Continued from 15/8/05 in Canberra

DR BYRON: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the public hearings of the Productivity Commission's National Inquiry into the Conservation of Australia's Historic Heritage Places. My name is Neil Byron and I'm the Presiding Commissioner for this inquiry. My fellow Commissioner is Tony Hinton.

This inquiry stems from terms of reference that the Commission has received from the Australian Treasurer with the endorsement of all state and territory governments. It covers the policy framework and the incentives in place to encourage the conservation of heritage places, including built heritage.

We've already talked to a large number of different organisations and individuals with interest in heritage conservation in most states and territories, including some fascinating rural and regional visits in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania. Submissions have been coming into the inquiry following the release of our issues paper about two months ago, and we now have over 150 submissions, all of which are on our web site.

The purpose of these hearings is to provide an opportunity for any interested parties to discuss their submissions with the Commission and put their views on the public record. We've already held hearings in all of the capital cities and, today and tomorrow here in Sydney, the end of our formal information gathering process. We're about to move into analysis and writing mode after Friday, tomorrow. So we're planning to release a draft report for public comment late November, early December. There will be another round of hearings, with opportunities for feedback, where we'll be looking for comments when people have had the time to read and digest and think about our proposed recommendations.

In the Productivity Commission we always try and conduct our public hearings in as informal a manner as possible. But because we're taking a full transcript for the record, we can't accept interjections from the floor because the transcription service won't be able to recognise who's talking. But we always, to compensate for that, try to make an opportunity for anyone in the room, who wants to come forward at the end of the day to put something on the public record, to do so. The transcripts will be put on the Commission's web site as soon as they've been checked for accuracy, and they'll also be available through public libraries.

To comply with Australian Government occupational health and safety legislation, I have to inform everybody in the room that in the very very unlikely event of an incident, alarms will sound and we'll go straight out that way into the open, and congregate down past the fire exit and exit onto the street. The other bit of housekeeping is: the toilets are just outside, the way we came in, around to my right as we go out the door. I think that's all the housekeeping I need to explain.

DR BYRON: So without any further ado, I'd like to welcome our first participants for the day, the representatives of the Heritage Chairs and Officials of Australia and New Zealand. If you'd like to take a seat at the microphone, and then if you could just officially introduce yourselves through the microphone so that the transcribers can recognise voices later on.

Thank you very much for the written submission, which Tony and I have read quite carefully. If you could just take us through the main points of that in maybe 10 or 15 minutes. Then we'd like to spend the next half an hour or so after that discussing the matters that you've raised. Thanks for coming today.

MR COLLINS: Thank you, chair. We're delighted to be here today. My name is Michael Collins. I'm the chair of the Heritage Council of New South Wales. Importantly, I'm here today in my capacity as the nominated representative of a forum known as the Heritage Chairs of Australia and New Zealand (HCOANZ). With me is - and I'll get Susan, for voice identification purposes, and Jeremy to identify themselves.

MS MACDONALD: Hi. My name is Susan Macdonald. I'm the assistant director of the New South Wales Heritage Office. But my role in this session is as the project manager of the joint submission that's being prepared by that body.

MR THORPE: My name is Jeremy Thorpe and I'm a director of the Allen Consulting Group. We are providing some advice in assisting in the original research and preparation of the second submission.

DR BYRON: Thanks.

MR COLLINS: Thank you very much. As I said earlier, I'm delighted to be here because, I think in a nutshell, chair, we often fail on the cultural side of Australia's heritage environment; that we are the poor cousin to Australia's natural heritage environment in the way that policy development has occurred at the national and state levels. I think the reason for the Productivity Commission inquiry is to actually tease those sorts of issues out.

As I've said to you, I'm here today in my role as the chair of a project group formed by the Heritage Chairs and Officials of Australia and New Zealand to prepare a joint submission to the Productivity Commission into historic heritage. As I've also said, I'm the chair of the New South Wales Heritage Council, and with me is Susan Macdonald and Jeremy Thorpe, who actually we have engaged - the Heritage Chairs have engaged to undertake research work on our behalf as part of our final submission to this Productivity Commission inquiry.

The submission has been prepared by the Australian and New Zealand Heritage Chairs as a joint submission of the chairs of the various heritage councils. It has a rather specific type, which outlines exactly who the submission is from and of course the submission is in fact titled Initial Submission. The key words here are "initial submission" by the heritage chairs of the Heritage Councils of Australia, New Zealand, New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia, Queensland, South Australia, ACT and Northern Territory heritage councils and the Tasmanian Government. I just wish to put that on the record.

As I said, our submission is an initial submission only in advance of a more detailed submission that will draw on research work currently under way. It's our ambition to have our final submission to you by the end of next month, by late September, very early October. We hope that the Productivity Commission will await what we hope to be a useful and indeed important submission, which will rely upon some groundbreaking new research that has yet to date not been attempted in this country.

I notice, Commissioner, that you talked about receiving more than 150 submissions and have had the opportunity to look at those 150 submissions. It's fair to say that in terms of intellectual research, a lot of the submissions do not have an intellectual research component. They offer a lot of opinions and observations. Therefore we feel that it's all the more important that our submission is going to garner the type of research that the Productivity Commission will be seeking and relying upon in its analysis of the state of historic heritage in Australia; that is, work on the economic, social, environmental and cultural value of heritage places in Australia.

Our work, as we've discussed with you in previous sessions, is research that has long been needed and attempted to delve into Australia's opinion on the importance of our historic heritage. We're not sure what the outcome of that research will be. But in our experience people are passionate about our past; how it has shaped us as individuals and how it has defined our nation's culture and our physical environment. We know that there are, however, impediments to achieving our aims. Our work will also outline what we think the market failures are in detail.

Our research departs from previous methods that have been used to measure the value of historic heritage and recognises that measuring the value of individual monuments and places is really only just a part of the story. Our heritage is of course more than that. We prefer to talk of the historic environment, where the parts may be of national significance, or perhaps of some importance on a regional level, and indeed many may be of importance primarily to those who live and work there in the local area. But together they all constitute our historic heritage.

The relationship of the parts is of course important, too, as the sum of the parts can sometimes be more important than the individual places themselves. We've brought with us today a copy of our draft survey - which I'll be pleased to hand over - which is intended to occur over the next month or so. I'll show you just where we're going with this work. We would, of course, be interested in your comments on the way through.

Importantly, we support the idea of an integrated approach to heritage. By that we mean that it's important to manage all of our heritage in the same way, and the relationships between it - natural heritage, historic, or cultural heritage, and of course, indigenous heritage. Together, these components constitute our historic environment. We acknowledge the focus of this inquiry is on historic heritage.

Of course, we have focused our submission on this aspect of Australia's heritage. Our initial submission, which we provided to you several days ago, is in fact quite brief. It outlines who we are in a very factual way, the relationships between our respective jurisdictions. It answers some of the most basic questions about the Australian heritage system raised in your issues paper. It also lets you know what we considered to be the most important issues. These are firstly the need for improved incentives. By this we mean a range of tools and instruments, including economic instruments.

Secondly, we recognise the need to improve the policy framework. We know that these are actions needed by government at every level - and with our help, as the government's key expert advisory councils in each jurisdiction. Between us, we recognise we have a great responsibility for managing Australia's heritage. As you know, and as we state in our submission, much of Australia's historic heritage is managed by local government. They do not do this in isolation. Rather, they do it within the structure provided by the states, and with our limited support - limited in terms of financial support.

As the group of key heritage chairs with the organisations that administer our work, we are in fact a small group, but we think a very important one. We have noticed some common themes emerging in submissions that you've received to date, and they are of no surprise to us. We also note that, as is usual, where there is a government body available to discuss local heritage matters, people have taken this opportunity.

Although some of these seem quite specific, they do provide a flavour of the nature of our work, and the tensions that exist in our work on a day to day basis, and the issues of concern to the community. Whilst many of the submissions may not be of particular relevance to the pure terms of reference, they do, in fact, provide a very great descriptor to the general concern of the community in the way in which our heritage is valued or not valued and protected. Many of these issues, of course, as I said, are quite local in content, but they are indicative of the range and type of issues repeated over and over again across the country. We have described the research work that we are presently undertaking in our submission, and would be happy to answer questions about it today. We are also keen to hear about how we can help you at this stage of the inquiry.

What I'd like to do now is just spend a couple of minutes in just thumbing through the submission that we have made to you. I note that in terms of the final submission that we want to present to you, the heritage chairs have recently commissioned Allens Consulting to undertake research on the economic, social and environmental and cultural value of heritage places. As I said earlier, there has been comparatively little of this type of research, or market survey work done in Australia on historic heritage. We believe that the lack of research limits the ability of respondents to address many of the questions raised in the Productivity Commission inquiry. That is why we are doing the work.

The work that we're undertaking includes a non market valuation study that identifies the economic, social, environmental and cultural value of the current system of heritage management in Australia. This work will address both use and non use benefits, including discrete choice modelling. Benefits not able to be modelled in this way will also be incorporated into the analysis. A discrete choice modelling exercise attempts to assist in determining the value of heritage in its wider context.

Secondly, the work will also include an identification, very importantly, of the market failures and other market characteristics that impede the provision of the optimum level of heritage protection. Policy tools that are, or could be used to address these market failures, and the characteristics of them, will be identified in our final submission to capture economic, social, environment and social benefits. As I said to you earlier, it is anticipated that this research will be completed and be incorporated into our final submission to be delivered to you in late September, early October.

Finally, I think I just want to draw on an early submission that Allens have been doing for us, to point out to you the direction of some of the research that we're undertaking. As I've said, it's very very important that we get to understand the economic, social and environmental value of heritage. Heritage generates economic value for a number of potential reasons - the physical assets that embody historic heritage. Beyond physical value, they were heritage assets valued for a variety of intangible benefits. People, can in fact, value the existence of heritage. Although they might never visit a given place, they would feel a quantifiable loss if it was destroyed. The option to visit a heritage site, although they may not have an immediate plan to visit the place. Also, the chance to bequeath a heritage place for future generations as part of a shared cultural legacy.

Major challenges is that places that may have a range of values for different individuals or groups, heritage is in the eye of the beholder. The lack of an absolute reference standard means that there is always going to be debate about the degree to which individual sites are protected on heritage grounds. The identification of market failures is important because Australian governments are committed to the principle that government interventions in market should generally be restricted to situations of market failure - and that each regulatory regime should be targeted on the relevant market failure. I guess we might even say that we believe there has been, to some extent, an over reliance on heritage listing, as a tool to protect heritage sites, without sufficient support from complementary policy instruments. This is evidenced because the current crop of heritage lists that are around Australia - each of the state and territory lists as well as the national lists - are not comprehensive.

One can't look a list and say, for example that, "My property is not listed, so I should be able to manage it as I see fit." Often, it's only when a development of a site is foreshadowed, that the heritage issue may arise. So there is uncertainty in that particular area. The public is not sufficiently aware also of what listing entails. Heritage listing is seen as an amorphous concept, but a distinction between different heritage lists, between different classifications within lists, is sometimes lost on the community with the result that sometimes people have little perception of the actual restrictions that listing entails.

Finally, the public may have negative perceptions about the impact of holistic loss. Listing may reduce the value of some properties in some cases. The weight of evidence actually suggests otherwise. I guess in terms of policy implementation, we would say that the failure to adequately support listing with a comprehensive stocktake of Australia's heritage sites with funding support and mechanisms and incentives, and effective public education programs, can undermine the effectiveness of the listing process.

In short, I would say that the notion is that we should move to, I guess, increase more direct and indirect use of policy instruments, but do it in a way which balances the need for economic preservation, and the direct involvement of land owners as well as the wider community. With that, I will finish my introductory comments, and invite questions from the chair. Also, with the assistance of Susan and Jeremy, hopefully, we can answer any questions that you may have.

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