Sydney Harbour Defence Sites Transfer

NPA Backs Premier

25 March 1998

The National Parks Association today announced its support of the Premier in his dispute with the Prime Minister over the transfer of Sydney Harbour Defence Department sites, including North Head and Middle Head, to the State. The issue was given special consideration at a just completed meeting of the NPA’s State Council.

NPA Executive Officer Noel Plumb said "The Prime Minister is wrong to suggest that we should have to pay for the gift of the surplus defence lands as an addition to Sydney Harbour National Park, even if it is paid for by the Federal Government’s Federation Fund."

"The Prime Minister’s recent remarks are welcome that these sites are a jewel in Australia’s crown and should be a gift to the nation. This is the first clear indication that the Prime Minister realises that Australians will not let his Defence Minister sell these precious sites to the highest bidder or see their heritage values lost to the nation."

"Nevertheless, the Prime Minister is wrong on two counts."

"First, surplus public land which has significant natural and cultural heritage values, let alone the extraordinary values of these defence sites, must be retained for public ownership and the public should not be expected to pay to retain such land. It should not be for sale in any way."

"Second, the Federation Fund must be used wisely to create as many major projects as possible to commemorate the centenary of Federation. The Defence sites exist and a simple transfer at no cost would see them become part of the Sydney Harbour National Park. This would ensure the Federation Fund could be used more widely to create public infrastructure which may otherwise not be possible."

"However, it would not be inappropriate to consider allocation of some money from the Federation Fund to pay for the rehabilitation of these sites and to assist with continuing management of a Sydney Harbour National Park which clearly has world heritage values."

"NPA urges the Prime Minister and Premier to resolve this situation in a generous, open and dignified manner which will see these sites preserved for future generations as part of our unique heritage."

For further comment: Noel Plumb 9233 4660 or 018 975 075

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