Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 11 Hansard (21 October) . . Page.. 3476 ..
MR SMYTH (continuing):
as they are to the heritage and history of the ACT and the nation - indigenous people lived in and nurtured all the land around us. We are very fortunate that Canberra has such an outstanding natural environment, but also has a rich and diverse heritage which includes its indigenous history, its rural history, and all that flows from its unique position as the national capital for the last 92 years.
As we approach the centenary of Federation of our country, it is most timely to examine the way we manage, protect and promote our heritage. To date, heritage management in the ACT has focused on the legislative protection of places and objects for current and future generations. Mr Speaker, our aims have been to put them out of danger from development, to encourage adaptive reuse where possible, and to provide a level of certainty in planning for the future.
We have spent a lot of time and money researching and documenting and protecting our natural, Aboriginal and built heritage. This is important and will continue to be so. The Heritage Council have done an excellent job in providing leadership, often under intense pressure, to protect our precincts. In recognising this heritage we also need to celebrate our heritage. We are so lucky in the ACT to have not only a wide range of heritage, covering many eras, but to also have truly accessible heritage. We have many Aboriginal rock art and axe grinding sites within one hour's drive, and many scarred trees and other sites which exist compatibly within urban areas.
Natural sites are also close by. The geological anticline is in the shadow of new Parliament House and is probably passed every day by tens of thousands of commuters without many recognising the site's importance. Our historic and built sites are also our early homes, our churches, places for our weekend excursions, and even our Civic merry-go-round. And yet, when our interstate family and friends or international visitors come to Canberra, do we show them this heritage? I believe we need to better promote these aspects of our heritage environment that we are proud of.
Mr Deputy Speaker, recently we have seen some significant changes. We now have the wonderful facility of the Canberra Museum and Gallery. This is one of our newest facilities and, because of its high-quality presentation and professional approach, it is attracting both visitors and locals alike.
Mr Deputy Speaker, the challenge for all of us is to do more. Recently we reviewed the Government's heritage function to better define a strategic direction for heritage in the ACT, and to assess the roles, responsibilities and services provided by the Heritage Unit. The review supported and clarified the core functions and roles of the ACT Heritage Council and the ACT Heritage Unit. It supported the Heritage Council's role as an independent expert advisory body to the Minister and the Government, and the retention of a specialist public sector group to support the council - the Heritage Unit - which is contained within Environment ACT.
Mr Deputy Speaker, the Government has been encouraged by the results of this review, and will put in place a range of positive changes. A major part of this will be the heritage discovery program. This will assist residents and visitors alike in finding our special places. Many are well known and loved, such as the national attractions and