MEDIA RELEASE: AT WHAT POINT DID THE MINISTER SEEK ADVICE ON THE WORLD HERITAGE VALUES OF THE SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE?
AT WHAT POINT DID THE MINISTER SEEK ADVICE ON THE WORLD HERITAGE VALUES OF THE SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE?
As the Minister responsible for Australia’s World Heritage sites, Minister Price needs to clarify if the values of the Sydney Opera House have been compromised by the proposal to make it a billboard.
The Opera House was nominated for World Heritage status and added to the World Heritage list in 2007, during the time of the Howard Government. It was also added to Australia’s National Heritage list in 2005 by the Howard Government.
It is a global symbol of Sydney and Australia.
World Heritage sites have to be administered according to management plans prepared and implemented by the Minister.
Under section 321 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act), the Commonwealth has an obligation to put in place a plan a management plan for World Heritage sites.
Under section 322 of the EPBC Act, the Commonwealth and each Commonwealth agency has a responsibility to take all reasonable steps to ensure they exercise their powers and perform their functions in relation to a World Heritage property in a way that is consistent with the management plan. In other words, the Environment Minster has an obligation to protect the heritage values of World Heritage sites.
The Conservation Management Plan for the Sydney Opera House, which is “part of the accredited Management Plan for the Sydney Opera House… to protect and conserve the World Heritage and National Heritage values of the place” (page 6, Respecting the Vision: Sydney Opera House – a Conservation Management Plan), and endorsed by the NSW Heritage Council, says: “The Sydney Opera House exterior, particularly the shells (and even the Tarpeian Wall face), should not be regarded as a giant billboard or commercial / advertising opportunity” (page 185, Respecting the Vision: Sydney Opera House – a Conservation Management Plan).
The Prime Minister’s description of the Sydney Opera House as “the biggest billboard Sydney has” is the exact opposite of the principles the Government is obliged to enforce under law.
• At what point did the Minister ask for advice on the values of the Opera House and whether they have been breached / impacted?
• What was the advice provided to the Minister?
• What decisions has the Minister taken as a result of this advice?
• Has the Minister considered the management plan for the Opera House? And give the comments of the Prime Minister will the Minister be seeking to change the management plan?
Given the high profile discussion on the Sydney Opera House as a World Heritage site, one of the highest profile discussions in living memory - It would be unthinkable for Environment Minister to not follow this course of action.
TUESDAY, 9 OCTOBER 2018