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I now turn to the key issues from the Heritage Ministers conference, including a review of Commonwealth-owned heritage properties, a Federation sites strategy and issues relating to the National Estate grants program. The States and Territories were briefed by the Commonwealth on the taxation incentive scheme for heritage conservation introduced in 1994. There are no successful ACT applications under that scheme in this current financial year. Following concerns raised previously about the management and maintenance of Commonwealth properties, the meeting endorsed the Commonwealth undertaking a review of its own heritage properties. This may have some implications for the ACT. Also endorsed was a policy of ongoing liaison with the Building Owners and Managers Association on achieving an agreed policy on heritage conservation and a joint, staged project to develop a strategy to identify and conserve sites that were significant in the history of the Federation of Australia. This will be an important task in the lead-up to the centenary of Federation in five years’ time.
The meeting also agreed to a working party review of the Australian Heritage Commission procedures and for each jurisdiction to consider a program similar to the Victorian heritage official buildings restoration program. Victoria has appropriated $7m towards the restoration of historic buildings over the next two years. The Commonwealth has been encouraged to amend legislation to allow places on State and Territory heritage registers to be eligible for funding under the National Estate grants program.
A related item saw agreement to further work on national coordination of heritage assessments and listing procedures. This is a matter of particular interest to the ACT as we are now one of the first States or Territories to be discussing a bilateral agreement with the Commonwealth which will see principles established to minimise administrative duplication, improve decision-making and provide more certainty for affected property owners. Recognising the impact that heritage listing has on landowners, the meeting also agreed to further work on the economic effects of heritage listing. This work will be useful in informing the ACT Heritage Council in its work on potential incentive programs for the ACT.
The attendance by an ACT Minister at these meetings has given us a useful opportunity to consult with our fellow Ministers on these matters of mutual interest. I believe that our presence is appreciated and our contributions are valued. The papers prepared for and arising from these council meetings are confidential; but, if anyone has any particular questions, they can raise them with me privately. I am very happy to help. I present a copy of this statement, and I move:
That the Assembly takes note of the paper.
MR WOOD (3.34): Mr Speaker, Mr Humphries has pointed out that this ministerial meeting was a useful opportunity to consult with his colleagues, and I would certainly endorse that from my experience of ministerial council meetings. I would reinforce something that Rosemary Follett said yesterday, and that is that the rhetoric of the Liberal Government - and it is still only rhetoric - should do nothing to damage the