Ms O'CONNOR question to MINISTER for HERITAGE, Mr HODGMAN
Over the course of the past five years, your Government has cut resourcing to Heritage Tasmania and slashed by hundreds of properties the number listed on the Heritage Register. We now know that the Heritage Register is further compromised by a lack of due diligence in registrations, with coordinates for properties incorrectly recorded and incomplete entries raising questions over the protection of heritage treasures such as the Cataract Gorge. How concerned are you about these failings and what steps have you taken to ensure Tasmania's heritage treasures have the protection they deserve and that resourcing is restored to Heritage Tasmania?
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for the question and point to our strong support of our heritage assets, Heritage Tasmania and our action to deal with what was an inadequate register on coming to government and to ensure that the integrity of it could be improved to better protect and strengthen the quality of the register. It is an important statutory tool and holds a repository of our historic -
Ms O'Connor - Blah, blah, blah.
Mr HODGMAN - You are not interested in the facts, are you?
Ms O'Connor - Well, you are not saying anything.
Mr HODGMAN - Would you even let me start? I am only through my second sentence and already she is making stupid noises. Come on, listen to some facts. You asked me about the register and I would like to be able to tell you, if you are serious - and I will, in any event, because I am sure other members of the House are.
It is an important thing. The register contains over 5000 entries that represent a diverse range of places, from relatively modest cottages in places like Battery Point, Evandale and Stanley, to visitor attractions like the Cataract Gorge and Port Arthur. It is managed and maintained under the direction of the Tasmanian Heritage Council.
In March 2014 amendments were made to the Historic Cultural Heritage Act by the then Labor government that proclaimed to validate all existing entries on the register. Each entry remains protected and subject to the heritage works approval process under the act. Between 1997 and 1999 a large number of entries that contained limited detail were made in the Heritage Register and that is why the Government has conducted a series of reviews in recent years that have helped to establish the quality and integrity of these early entries and identified areas where further work is needed.
One of these reviews conducted between 2016 and 2018 was an audit of the accuracy and location of boundary details of each entry. Correcting inaccuracies commenced immediately. Given the importance of this work, resources have been allocated to the task. Two new research officers and a data spatial officer were appointed in 2018 so we have actually put in additional resources and taken this seriously.
External expertise has also been engaged as required. The Heritage Council has worked hard to target the entry, review and amend, and the replacement of existing entries in the Heritage Register that warrant it. Importantly, the Heritage Council is also developing a registration plan that will help guide any work to improve the quality, accuracy and currency of the Heritage Register and to facilitate greater access to the information it contains.
This is a serious matter. It has been taken seriously as indeed is the integrity of the register which goes to ensuring that all our heritage properties and those that are appropriately on the register are properly protected and that there is an awareness of their value to our state. We have put additional resources in place and additional personnel to help us through this task.
Ms O'Connor - You never strengthened the act.
Mr HODGMAN - I would have thought the Greens would welcome an improvement to the register, strengthening its integrity and ensuring that our great heritage asset is protected and preserved for many generations to come.