Page 922 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 22 March 2017

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The Heritage Council must also balance the requirement to assess nominations with its other statutory reporting and advisory functions as prescribed under the act. This can, and frequently does, involve resource-intensive appeals on registration decisions to the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal, ACAT, and the Supreme Court.

While appeals on registration decisions reflect community interest in heritage matters, they, like urgent nomination applications, divert resources allocated to assessing the list of nominations. As part of the ACT government’s commitment to transparency, fair decision-making and natural justice, many registration decisions can be appealed, including decisions to cancel, amend and register, or not, heritage places and objects. The ACT has the highest number of decisions that can be appealed and interested parties who may appeal them. In many jurisdictions the minister is the decision-maker, or has the call-in power, and no right of appeal exists.

As previously mentioned, ACAT appeals are resource intensive and divert resources allocated to assessments. Over the years, decisions of ACAT have set precedents that have meant that higher levels of research, information and assessment against the heritage significance criteria are now required by the Heritage Council.

The Heritage Council’s ability to deal with the list of nominations is also constrained in that its members are part-time office holders. This is common across jurisdictions. To get the best quality Heritage Council members necessarily means that members often have other work commitments and, therefore, are not available full time as Heritage Council members.

In response to Ms Lawder’s motion, paragraph (c) of my amendment proposes:

make contact with the nominators for the assessments that have been waiting longer than 12 months and update them with how the application is progressing.

One of the roles of ACT Heritage within EPSDD is to provide administrative and secretariat support to the independent Heritage Council, who are responsible for undertaking heritage significance assessments of nominations and making registration decisions. This includes notifying interested parties of decisions relating to nominations, assessment and registration. It also includes undertaking public consultation on private registration and final registration decisions.

Of course, heritage nominations affect a much wider range of interested parties and not just the nominator. Those parties could include the owner, occupier, lessee, architect, designer et cetera. Provisions for who must be notified and consulted with, the time frame and the method in which to notify and consult are determined under the Heritage Act.

ACT Heritage also informs other key interested groups, such as the National Trust, the Canberra and District Historical Society and the United Ngunnawal Elders Council, of decisions. For some nominations, such as precincts and places related to natural values, hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of interested parties must be notified at each stage of the decision-making process.

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