Thursday 21st June 2007 - Estimates Committee B (Wriedt) Part 2
Output group 3
Heritage and the arts
3.1 historic heritage services
Ms WRIEDT - I would like to welcome Pete Smith, the Manager of Heritage Tasmania.
Mr FINCH - I want to explore the aftermath of the turmoil in the recent past concerning the National Trust. I want you to give an overview of how the National Trust is operating now and how far we are from achieving the full independence of the National Trust?
Ms WRIEDT - It is still early days. The new board have been in place since April. They have met a number of times. I think I am due to meet with them in about two weeks' times. They have started to organise themselves to have a schedule of meetings and to put together a work plan. I know that the new CEO, Chris Tassell, has been very active in his new role. It is too early to outline their plan. We are a number of years from them being fully independent. When the legislation was passing through the House late last year, I indicated a time frame which showed that every year there would be one fewer member appointed by me to be replaced by someone elected by members of the National Trust which takes us to about five years out, I think. That is not to say it could not happen before then but two months into the new board is really too early to give any predictions. I think we have a really good board in place. It has been very well received. I have not heard anything to the contrary for quite some time from other formerly aggrieved parties involved with the National Trust. There was some talk about a rival national trust organisation being set up and I have not heard anything more about that. I was a little perplexed as to what role they might play and what exactly they might be managing. I think that everyone will give the new board an opportunity to start their work.
Mr FINCH - Just remind me, Minister, about the board. Who is on the board?
Ms WRIEDT - Ray Foley is the inaugural Chair, a longstanding trust member. The other board members are Chris Tassell who is the CEO; Dr Dianne Snowdon from Richmond, who is an historian; Andrew Kemp who was on the National Trust Advisory Committee; Lynne Stacpoole from Launceston; Richard Hammond from Launceston; and Pam Bartlett who has been involved in Home Hill.
Mr FINCH - So ostensibly the heat has gone out of the issue of the National Trust and people seem to be moving forward with it as planned. Is that through the legislation?
Ms WRIEDT - We had a really positive Tasmanian Heritage Festival a few months ago with a record number of events both in National Trust properties and others around the State. I think that was a really important opportunity for the National Trust to get off to a positive start. It featured a month-long program of events and I can only see it getting better and better. I think it is only fair that people give the new board an opportunity to get their work plan together.
Mr FINCH - Please tell us about the arrangement with Entally House now and the partnership with Gunns? Can you tell me something about that as well?
Ms WRIEDT - What exactly is the question because it could be a National Parks matter?
Mr FINCH - I am curious about what is happening with historic home of Entally House, which was formerly under the National Trust, and how the current partnership with Gunns is affecting the tourism situation. What the numbers are like with that arrangement?
Mr GADD - It was previously leased to the National Trust. It has always been under the control of Parks and Wildlife and the lease was transferred to Gunns. We ensured that all the volunteer efforts were preserved, the community of interest stayed. As a result of that deal we have been able to generate a regular income from Gunns which goes back into that property. We have been able to relieve ourselves, as the government managers, of some ongoing recurrent burdens. We were constantly handing out dribs and drabs to keep the National Trust in there. That is now the responsibility of the commercial operator.
As I understand it, the volunteers are tickety-boo, it is all going smoothly and I am not constantly putting my hand in my pocket to tip it along. From where we sit it is a great adaptive re-use of a heritage building. Somebody with deep pockets is in control and all the volunteers' interests are being preserved so that, to us, is a great outcome.
Mr FINCH - Are there any other partnerships of this nature in the offing? Is there something else that might be considered along these lines considering what you are saying now is a success story?
Mr GADD - There are plenty of opportunities. We have lots of properties under our portfolio that fit that previous description so if you know anyone with deep pockets I am more than happy to discuss it.
Mr FINCH - Can you talk about it? Can you mention them now?
Mr GADD - There is nothing specifically on the table. We have not said any particular properties are up for grabs.
Ms WRIEDT - If you know of anyone send them our way.
Mr FINCH - My pockets are pretty shallow.
Ms WRIEDT – I was not thinking of you personally.
Mr FINCH - The roles of the Historic Heritage services and of Heritage Tasmania are well explained in our budget documents but the role of Heritage Tasmania is about giving professional advice to heritage owners and managers and that is interesting. How do you quantify that within the department? How do you quantify the work that you do?
Ms WRIEDT - I do not quite understand the question. What do you mean?
Mr FINCH - How do you assess the work that you do?
Mr SMITH - I suppose in general, Heritage Tasmania has three primary roles. We coordinate historic heritage strategy and activities for Government, we have a primary role in supporting the Heritage Council to implement the Historic Cultural Heritage Act and we also play a role in supporting the development of the Tasmanian Historic Heritage sector. That includes the National Trust, small museums, historical societies and the like are groups that we have some involvement in, although our primary role is to support the statutory functions of the Heritage Council and to assist in the implementing of the act, as I said.
We have, going into 2007-08, 15.2 full-time equivalent staff and we opened a field office in Launceston approximately two years so that we could have better outreach in services in the north and north-west of the State. Our main office is in Macquarie Street in Hobart.
Mr FINCH - Do you envisage setting up an office in the north-west or is it done from Launceston?
Mr SMITH - At this point we have not had direct discussions. We service the north-west from both our Hobart and our Launceston offices, although we have discussed how the agency works in the other end of the State and we are keen to explore that, particularly in terms of the future work we are expecting to do with local government as part of the reform process.
I think there are certainly avenues for better servicing the State and the positioning we have done in recent years with the support of the Minister has really enabled us to respond to the needs of owners and managers of heritage places.
Mr GADD - I could add to that. From Tourism, Arts and the Environment department perspective I am certainly attracted to establishing a better presence for us on the north-west coast.
It was always something that we would like to do, should the opportunity arise down the track and if you look across the department, there is probably a decent critical mass for me to look at that and we are doing some back-of-the-envelope calculations in-house at the moment.
Mrs JAMIESON - I was going to follow the Penguin one up, we love Penguin! Given the Penguin experience, what lessons has Heritage Tasmania learned; to be proactive maybe?
Ms WRIEDT - I think the best information from it concerns the processes and the legislation governing the processes because, bar one hiccup in terms notification and some letters about a slight delay, it is true that everything has occurred in accordance with the act which governs it.
There has been a certain amount of hysteria and emotion associated with this. I use the term 'hysteria' based on personal experiences I with members of the Penguin community coming to see me and being quite hysterical about this. I can understand emotion but some quite ridiculous things were said about took place with the terrible letters that were distributed within the Penguin community. At all times the Heritage Council and Heritage Tasmania staff acted in accordance with the act. I say that categorically and without any hesitation. The review we are doing of the act has, certainly for me, clarified a number of issues on what we need to do.
I have a very strong opinion in relation to any precinct nominations. We need some sort of mechanism to the effect that a precinct nomination can only be done with adequate community consultation. That is, without doubt, the biggest issue that has come out of the nomination that occurred. It was seen as one or two individuals taking on the responsibility for the entire township without any consultation. That is where, I think, the root of a lot of the problems started and I think that is what divided the community from the start and it snowballed from there.
We do not have anything in the act at the moment that would prevent somebody making such a serial nomination again. There is nothing there that would force them to have community consultation now. How we actually frame that in terms of legislation we have not yet determined. I am sure that members of this committee who are also members of local government would like to comment on this and this is a good opportunity to float it, but it may be that only a precinct nomination can be made by the local council after consultation that they have undertaken because you have a mechanism there in place.
Mrs JAMIESON - That is basically what happed at Latrobe, isn't it?
Ms WRIEDT - I am certainly open to suggestions. It is probably the experiences we have had in Penguin that will delay the act. I would have liked to have had an act in this year and we are not going to really meet that now. It will be next year now. We want to get it right. I think as it shows we have got to get it right. We do not want to go down this path again and try and avoid a duplicate situation.
Mrs JAMIESON - Do you have the resources within the department to look at a pre-emptive list?
Mr SMITH - It is a very good question. One of the things that it reinforces is the fact the strategic directions we have taken in the last three financial years, including this one, is one of emphasising the importance of certainty for property owners and for managers and developers in respect of heritage under the planning system.
Part of a prior budget commitment was to enable us to do survey work with local councils. So with Waratah/Wynyard, with Meander Valley, with Kingborough, with Southern Midlands, with Launceston, there has been a range of work done over recent years that is enabling us to work those places that are deemed of state significance and therefore listed on the Tasmanian Heritage Register and those places of local significance that might be appropriate for listing in heritage schedules or under precinct provisions.
If we can continue that style of approach we have already covered at least a third of the state in terms of municipal areas. That will give us the greatest certainty to be able to say to people that there is greater clarity about what the planning system and the impost of that means for them, or whether or not places are not deemed to be eligible for listing which is also about certainty. We are keen to continue that approach. It is working well for us. Yes, there are some hiccups, but as part of the legislative reform we actually see that as a really important way of moving forward. We are being strategic, we are generating certainty but we are also very importantly protecting our State's heritage.
CHAIR - If I might progress this matter too, Minister, because I am pleased to see that (a) the act is going to have some changes and (b) some of those changes are going to reflect the issues in Penguin. Certainly the precinct concept is one that I would never have dreamed of before those particular actions.
Ms WRIEDT - Because all that happened before the McKay report into the review of the act which is now over 10 years old it really was not as big an issue as it has become.
CHAIR - There has been two interesting aspects to all this. One was that the precinct nomination came up after three years of intensive consultation by the Central Coast Council in all its community where heritage was not mentioned. Then suddenly a private individual who also happened to be a member of council decides heritage is important. The other issue that does create some significant angst and some of the hysteria you talk about is related to people's finances. When they get caught in a process that is going to take some time and they are in the middle of something to adjust mortgage, financial things et cetera, it can become as difficult for them as people who might be sitting waiting because a major road is going through and they are going to take part of their property and they can not move on that concept.
The interesting aspect of the Penguin issue is, to me, the time line, particularly when I have a copy of a document that Michael Lynch and some staff put to the Central Coast Council in January that gives a possible time line of four months. And yet, at the same time, Penguin –
Ms WRIEDT - To consider the precinct?
CHAIR - No, no. On nominating for the National Register. Precinct is history now as far as Penguin goes. I told them, it is experience, run away and forget about it, learn by it and forget about it. I am talking about individual places that are now to be registered and the fact that, in local government, if you have something in front of planning, you have 42 days or it is deemed approved. Even the Water Management Act has 84 days on it.
But when you have people who, in January, get a letter to say, 'Perhaps', and the last letter at the end of May is, 'A final decision will be made in December after which you can appeal', this is a 12-month process in individual's lives. In Penguin, because of the significant movements there, the opportunities for development et cetera, there have been people who believe have missed opportunities because they are caught in this conundrum. Is there consideration in these changes to adhere to some time lines in the same way as I have instanced - local government 42 days and 84 days Water Management Act? We should be able to put some category in if we are going to uphold people's rights to do what they like with their property.
Ms WRIEDT - It is something that we will certainly have a look at and we have to work out whether that is feasible and so on. I think what is really interesting is that one of the propositions that was actually put to me a couple of months ago, I think in April by the Central Coast Council in fact, was to please suspend this process. I have always been of the view that it would be much better if I asked the Heritage Council to speed up the process and to do it as quickly as I could in order to resolve the issue particularly in relation to the initial -
CHAIR - 130?
Ms WRIEDT - Yes, 100-odd properties so that people could know, yes, they were being seriously considered or no, they were not. I found myself in a very difficult situation because, effectively, what I was being asked to do was really not allowed under the act. I was actually being asked to breach the act, which I was not prepared to do. I did argue very strongly that I believed it was in the best interests of everyone to have this resolved and not be sitting around in 12 and 18 months' time having suspended this while we carried out the review of the act.
I do not know that the Heritage Council can do this any quicker. Peter might be able to provide some more advice on that. But certainly in terms of the legislation review we will look at what you have raised.
Mr SMITH - The works process is aligned to the legal time frame. In fact local government has the opportunity to stop the clock where the Heritage Council under the heritage act does not if additional information or assessment is required that might otherwise defer or delay full assessment. One of the things we are keen to do is to ensure there is much more consultation at the front end of the process and engagement with nominators than there has been historically. So things have been fairly strictly applied in the statutory sense and we are trying to shift our approach in that regard.
We are trying to ensure greater alignment with LUPA generally. Part of the legislative reform process is about reinforcing that in a way that is mindful of certainty, a need for timely response but also thorough assessment. Sometimes that does take time and it is not so clear cut. I think those key elements are really important to the legislative reform and will be things we will be looking at over the next nine months.
CHAIR - I accept that. I think it is better to have the capacity of a shorter time frame, such as those under LUPA, where you can negotiate with the owner, than have something such as the instance as I have given where it is going to be a 12-month process.
I think a short time line with an opportunity to stop the clock with all parties agreement is perhaps a better option in processes as we have all learnt from this particular aspect. The other issue I wish to progress is in relation to the 1993 to 1995 Main Street process we talked about last year. Some people in the community came to the Heritage Council in the middle of a development plan. There was no listing but it was looked at anyway and then put on the heritage list. Fortunately for the developers, probably because they had put in a significant investment, they were happy to cooperate with the heritage listing that was put on it.
I think that was possibly a good outcome, although in a copy of a letter I have where the Heritage Council acknowledges they are pleased with the preliminary redesign proposals et cetera, it also states that the formal works application process includes a period of public submission. So it may be that further heritage issues emerge from that process.
So quite clearly even though you may have cooperated with the Heritage Council, become heritage listed, do a plan, put drafts in for consultation, which has all had a good outcome, you can still not go away as a developer and say, 'Okay, if the works plan is as we have agreed there is no further argument'. Quite clearly the public can continue to intervene and there are vexatious people who will continue to do just that. We should not have it. That is what we make laws for. So this is another issue that, I believe, should have been looked at and I do not know whether it has.
We have listed the tin roof in Thomas's building in Penguin, built around it and left it there albeit at a quarter of a million dollars to upstay the side wall to start this process, all agreed and yet still the developers walk away with the thought that still the public may be able to stop me.
Ms WRIEDT - Yes. I recall now that we did have that discussion last year. I think I was on the record then as saying what we do want to do in this is get that balance right between preserving heritage but also giving the developers the certainty that they need. I have met with the developers in question in relation to 93-95 Main Road, Penguin, and I know their frustrations, I know what they have been through on this.
CHAIR - This letter came after our discussions of last year's Budget. That is why I was concerned, that several months on, on paper, we are still getting –
Ms WRIEDT - I met with them in January, I think it was.
CHAIR - I want assurity that we are going to fix all these things as we go along.
Ms WRIEDT - It is certainly something that we need to look at. This is really putting the spotlight on the deficiencies in the act that were not perhaps foreshadowed as well as they could have been in the McKay report because it pre-empted the report
CHAIR - Michael Lynch and I had a conversation about it when I was attempting to find a way of untangling it enough to assist with heritage. I asked Mr Lynch at the time whether or not the person who had put in the proposal could withdraw it. At that time he said he was not sure, that the act was silent on this. I thought that perhaps a way to negotiate through this, having spoken to the individual, was for them to withdraw it. Then, instead of a wholesale 130, a proper look could be taken by council or community or even individuals in some way. I thought that that perhaps would have been an option.
But the act is silent, he said, and I do not think either side really wanted to test it one way or the other as to whether you could or you could not do that.
Ms WRIEDT - My recollection is that we did get some advice on this and the advice was that once an elimination had been made it could not be withdrawn.
CHAIR - Again, I do not know whether there should be a cooling-off period to allow it.
Ms WRIEDT - Which is why I am cautioning and pleading with an individual on the north-west coast who says that for vexatious reasons he shall make a serial precinct nomination for Burnie, Launceston, Ulverstone and Devonport to make a point that the act is deficient. Well we know the act is deficient hence that is why we are reviewing it and to actually do something as obviously vexatious as he is, is irresponsible. I know that is a view held by several people. The General Manager of Central Coast Council has strong views about that as well. We do not need people to make a point. We understand. This is highlighted to us. The review was well under way, it has reinforced some clear signposts for us if you like about how we need to proceed. Hence why there will not be any legislation this year.
CHAIR - How far away is the legislation? Are we perhaps looking at Autumn 2008?
Ms WRIEDT - That is right.
CHAIR - Whilst I know and accept what you are saying about a person's particular hit out, hysterical or otherwise. Again it is a response to something that has affected a community and themselves as an individual. None of us knows how we may react if it is ourselves personally - particularly if it is a financial issue on top of everything else - to these proposals.
The act should quite clearly be able to do something about precinct. We all know in Tasmania where precinct heritage is as against where individual properties might be that have some special significance. We all talk about old houses and yet I reckon we probably have not listed the best example of the turn-of-the-century 2000 yet under a heritage act that was supposed to look right through the ages. We are still back in the dark ages I think with our act as well as with our interpretation of what our heritage into the future should be.
Ms WRIEDT - We can feel safe in the knowledge that this very building, 10 Murray Street, is on the Heritage List as a prime example of architecture in I believe 1959. Isn't that comforting.
CHAIR - No.
Mrs JAMIESON - Madam Chair, you have opened the door for me to ask the question about Home Hill in Devonport, which is still owned by the council. Is there any thought at all of the Heritage Council or call it whatever you like, taking on the ownership of Tasmania's only Prime Minister's House?
Ms WRIEDT - It is not the role of the Heritage Council to own property.
Mrs JAMIESON - National Trust? Well ,National Trust are involved any way.
Ms WRIEDT - The National Trust manage it.
Mrs JAMIESON - They manage it. That is right.
CHAIR - Wasn't it left by the Lyons family to the Devonport community?
Mrs JAMIESON - It was but they want out.
Mr GADD - We have not been approached on that basis. I have visited the property and I think it is an outstanding example and everything that is there is pretty much as it was when the family left. We have never been approached on that basis. We thought that it is quite comfortably ensconced with the Devonport City Council and the group that look after it.
Mrs JAMIESON - There is some major maintenance starting to be needed on the place and the council just have not got the wherewithal to deal with it.
CHAIR - Commonwealth conservation program.
Mrs JAMIESON - Yes, I have suggested that. I have had a talk to Chris about that.
Mr GADD - It should be on the national list. If it is not, it definitely should be pursued, in which case that would open up a range of funding avenues through the Commonwealth as well. Given it was Lyons' house, it ought to be a certainty for national listing.
Mr SMITH - My understanding is that the collection is owned by the National Trust, the property is owned for the community by the council. I notice the CEOs had quite recent discussions up on the north-west coast, but I was not aware of that particular issue and that is something I can answer at the end.
Mrs JAMIESON - Anything we can do to advance that would be good. And the other one, talking of Devonport, is the Torquay Ferry that has a historical significance because –
Ms WRIEDT - The what, sorry?
Mrs JAMIESON - The Torquay Ferry that runs across the Mersey - ferry across the Mersey?
Ms WRIEDT - Yes, I can see you breaking into song any moment now.
CHAIR - You sang yesterday; you are not singing today.
Mrs JAMIESON - It is a historical service that has been running for 150 years, fairly consecutively, and whilst it is privately run at the moment, the historical significance does not seem to be mentioned.
Mr GADD - Well, there is a heavy focus on our current list on property historically. I am not sure who –
Mrs JAMIESON - I gather it is one of the few that have been running continuously in Australia.
Ms WRIEDT - I think it is probably a grey area.
Mrs RATTRAY-WAGNER - I would like to ask about the potential national heritage listing of the Lake Margaret wood-stave pipeline and ask the minister could she give me an update on what her understanding is with the application at this stage.
Ms WRIEDT - It has been permanently entered on the Tasmanian Heritage Register. The Tasmanian Heritage Council has entered into a consent memorandum with Hydro Tasmania so that there is a deed of agreement in place. That will provide the opportunity for replacement of the pipeline with a new pipeline of wood-stave construction within the future plans that Hydro Tasmania has for redevelopment options over the next three years.
Mr SMITH - We are aware that there is a nomination to the National Heritage List. We are aware that that nomination is still being assessed at this point in time. I believe that we can expect a response from the Federal Minister for Environment and Water Resources in the next couple of months. I am not sure of the actual date on that. The State Government has provided information about its knowledge and understanding of Lake Margaret, and particularly the wood-stave pipeline. The Federal Government have also been informed through the Australian Heritage Council of the works that the Heritage Council have proposed for that site. I do note the most recent discussions with Hydro Tasmania with their consultative committee yesterday or the day before, and I was actually up there myself just two weeks ago to get a familiarisation of the site, which is certainly very unique.
So we are waiting for advice. Unfortunately, the Commonwealth provisions do not allow us much more certainty in terms of the nomination process.
Mrs RATTRAY-WAGNER - You said there was a role for your department in that nomination. Is it just a support measure, or do you have to provide any potential funding?
Mr SMITH - The State Government is signed up to a protocol as part of the new national heritage system and under that system there are a range of responsibilities that jurisdictions have, so we are alerted to the fact that a nomination is made to the National Heritage List, we are asked to provide information on the status of a particular place that is nominated to the national list, including details of any listing, conservation management plans and the like, reports of survey work and then the State Government is also officially asked for its position in relation to nominations.
Mrs RATTRAY-WAGNER - So you would have provided a positive support for that project?
Mr SMITH - I cannot recall the response directly on that but I believe that we did, especially in line with the decisions of the Tasmanian Heritage Council to recognise the uniqueness of that particular place.
Mrs RATTRAY-WAGNER - Can we have that confirmed, Minister?
Ms WRIEDT - Yes.
Mr FINCH - Table 12.8 on page 12.23 shows a steady increase in the number of places on the Tasmanian Heritage Register and this financial year it is expected to reach 5 500. In light of the fact that there are only so many heritage places in the State, I am curious about the development of that. Do we continue searching for, looking for, registering new places and new opportunities?
Ms WRIEDT - Yes.
Mr FINCH - So that is ongoing work that the department undertakes?
Ms WRIEDT - Yes. We get nominations in two ways. We are continuing to do surveys around the State in various municipalities to look at places that might be of interest. People directly nominate their own property or those of other people to be put on the register.
Mr GADD - We are constantly going back through the 5 000-plus that are on the list, reassessing them for accuracy. Some of them have been there quite a long time and some of them are a straight lift off old National Trust lists and other national lists that were around, so whenever we get the opportunity we are also trying to proof them. We are finding reasonable numbers that did not warrant being there or because of subsequent development action or whatever. We are constantly improving that list from both directions: adding to it and also proofing what is already there.
Mr DEAN - I wanted to pursue that as well. In relation to the review that is currently being done as to how the nomination occurs - and I know that people nominate and I think local government can be involved in that as well - I wonder how well we are doing that.
Ms WRIEDT - You want me to rate local government?
Mr DEAN - No.
Ms WRIEDT - I am not being mischievous, I am trying to understand the question.
Mr DEAN - I am trying to get a question out of this. A building in Launceston was recently pulled down, the people next door complained after it was pulled down. They believed it had been heritage listed but it had not been listed at all and local government then realised that it was a mistake. I think you might know the home.
Mr SMITH - Is this Charles Street?
Mr DEAN - That is the one. What happened, as a result of that and another building, there have been changes made to Launceston's planning and building schemes. They have made changes to ensure that any house that is to be pulled down will first be examined and must go through an application stage. Do you think there are changes that need to be made in the act for a proper assessment made of building? I do not know how you do it. When we talked about the house in the Gorge at one stage, Heritage Tasmania –
Ms WRIEDT - Please let us not revisit this.
Mr DEAN - No, I do not want to revisit that, but when I spoke to them about that they said there would be meetings with local government to advance the nominations and the proper listings of heritage buildings.
Ms WRIEDT - I have just been advised that there is some fairly extensive cooperation with the Launceston City Council, particularly in relation to getting some better alignment between the planning scheme and the heritage register to try to avoid some of the issues that we have experienced in the past.
Mr SMITH - There has been a lot of work done in relation to Launceston as an example of what is happening across the State. There have been a number of surveys conducted. The original, I think locally referred to as the 'National Trust 1 100' in Launceston, more recently Launceston City Council and the Heritage Council jointly funded the Davies survey of Launceston. That, as a process, has not only assisted to identify those places that should be listed at a local level but also any other additional places that should be listed at a State level. A key component of that is a need to look at precincts for Launceston, because Launceston is a really unique city in the national sense, and it has many fine precincts that mean that there are issues about the collection of structures and places within Launceston that are, in many ways, greater than any of the individual structures within the city. So we are working very closely with the planning department of Launceston City Council to ensure that we are working on that together. Part of that is about the issue of infill and also about the issue of demolition properties in those places.
Mr DEAN - Will this be a part of the review of the act? Without being parochial, Launceston is said to probably have some of the best heritage in the world because it has maintained streets of heritage buildings, as Mr Ray Foley identifies. So maybe there needs to be a strengthening of that to ensure that there is a proper and accurate listing of all buildings to ensure their protection or longevity. It is critical.
Mr SMITH - I agree. One of the things I commented on a moment ago is that approximately one-third of the State's municipal areas have been covered by heritage surveys that have been reasonably robust in recent years. West Coast Council and Devonport Council have taken the initiative themselves, as has Launceston, but a number of councils have either come to us or we have contacted them where there have been particular concerns about development pressure as a means of targeting those areas most in need of that survey work.
Mr DEAN - I am saying that I believe it should be much stronger in relation to the control Heritage Tasmania has in relation to local government. I think there should be far more tightening of the act to ensure that that occurs.
CHAIR - I would tread very carefully in one council of 29.
Ms WRIEDT - I am sure it will be the subject of some ongoing discussions with local government in the next six months and I look forward to that.
CHAIR - I might put a proposition to you, Minister, for an opinion. The Productivity Commission's report on nature conservation made the comment that we are fast getting to the situation where, if a community thinks we should preserve our natural heritage et cetera, the community should be prepared to assist financially. Are we getting to the situation where we should be considering a similar process also with our built heritage that is in private ownership if you were covenanting a property? Some require no extra finance because it is a fireplace or something with specific heritage. But if you get a small, very old house that has significant historical heritage and the community wishes to maintain it, should the community make financial contributions in the same way as the Productivity Commission report has suggested with the natural conservation of our nation?
Ms WRIEDT - I think that is probably a matter that will be the subject of ongoing discussion and there have been a few incidences that I can think of in recent times where that has been suggested. But I guess the difficulty a historic place like Tasmania would have would be how long is a piece of string? It would be a government with very deep bucket of money that could make a greater commitment towards maintaining all the 5 300 properties currently listed on the heritage register. It will be an ongoing discussion but at this stage it is not something I can foresee that we have the capacity to do above and beyond what we already do with conservation funding that we have available for private owners of historic properties to apply for funds for urgent maintenance works. I guess the other side of that is that there is an argument that if you have a historic property listed on the heritage register it can in fact increase the value of it.
CHAIR - Not necessarily the maintenance of it, though; value and maintenance are two different dollar signs.
Ms WRIEDT - No, I am talking about the value, should you then seek to sell it. If you actually look at the way real estate advertisements are worded they do tend to play on that historic nature as a selling point.