I seek leave to make an explanation before asking the Minister for State/Local Government Relations a question about heritage.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Just today, at around lunchtime, I received a reply to a freedom of information request about all correspondence between the Heritage Council and ministers for conservation over the last two years. Within those documents there was a brief provided to the former minister for heritage from the council which referred to its concerns about local government listing of places. In particular, it states its concern about the impact of budget savings and unprocessed nominations for state heritage listing (this is dated 15 February 2010) and that there were 43 nominations awaiting assessment. It also states:
With the support of the heritage branch, the council will identify the best approach to progress this matter within available resources. Currently, the heritage branch has only one full-time assessment position and the council may need to consider other models such as engaging consultants.
Another document, dated 5 August 2010, from the current minister, the Hon. Paul Caica, to the chair of the South Australian Heritage Council states:
One of the key issues that you identified relates to local heritage and the increased number of emergency nominations for state heritage listing for places that would be more appropriately protected at local level. I have written to the Minister for State/Local Government Relations, the Hon. Gail Gago MLC, seeking her support to ensure local councils update their development plans to protect local heritage places.
Honourable members may recall that in 2005, I think, the then minister for heritage released a document entitled 'Heritage Directions', which attached funding which was then made available to local government to assist it in developing its list of local items. As recently as Monday the National Trust has come out and said that country councils need to do more to protect locally listed heritage items, and the state president, Mr David Beaumont, has said that communities are having their culture and history demolished before their eyes. My questions are:
1. Is the minister aware of this issue?
2. Will he undertake to take up this issue now that he has been appointed to this position?
The Hon. B.V. FINNIGAN (Minister for Industrial Relations, Minister for State/Local Government Relations, Minister for Gambling) (14:23): I will seek information from my colleague in the other place, the Minister for Environment and Conservation, who is responsible for heritage. The honourable member seems to be indicating that the state government should bear some responsibility for local government decisions in relation to heritage. Obviously, the state plays a role in heritage, and, as my honourable colleague points out, it is also a factor under the Development Act, so this is a matter on which I would need to seek further information from my colleagues.
In relation to the implication that it is the state budget that is preventing local government from doing its job, I can certainly inform the council that the latest version of the State-Local Government Relations Agreement—which I witnessed the signing of by the Premier on 9 February—requires me as minister to provide information on state and local government financial relations, including, as part of the state government budget process, to the LGA. What this means in practice is that a state budget briefing is provided to the LGA on matters which have implications for local government, and those commitments have been met again for the 2010–11 budget.
A briefing provided to the LGA on the 2010–11 state budget included detailed written analysis, I am advised, of the implications of the budget in program areas important to local government. The budget identifies specific purpose payments made to local government in 2009-10 totalling $101.362 million, I am advised, and for 2010–11 estimated funding of approximately $100 million dollars is expected to be made available to local government when allocations for all programs are finalised. Local governments, of course, also receive substantial funding for roads and for other purposes from federal governments.
The Hon. B.V. FINNIGAN: The deputy leader of the opposition's question was essentially saying that local governments cannot do their job in relation to heritage because of the state budget. That is the matter that I am addressing in my answer. In the 2010–11 budget estimated funding of approximately $100 million dollars is expected to be made available to local government within a range of programs and portfolios. So, the suggestion that it is a state budget decision which should have an effect on local governments playing their role in relation to heritage is a falsehood.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (14:27): I have a supplementary question arising from the answer. Given that minister Caica did in fact write to your predecessor in August, are you going to write back to him and tell him that it is not relevant to your portfolio?
The Hon. B.V. FINNIGAN (Minister for Industrial Relations, Minister for State/Local Government Relations, Minister for Gambling) (14:27): I began my answer by saying I will seek further information from my colleagues in the other place.
Answered 16th May, 2012
In reply to the Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (23 February 2011) (First Session).
The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, Minister for Forests, Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Tourism, Minister for the Status of Women): The Minister for Environment and Conservation has been advised:
1. Local Heritage listing is undertaken at the discretion of each individual Local Council. Listing is provided for, but not required, under the provisions of the Development Act 1993. The Development Act 1993 requires an extensive consultation process prior to amendment of Development Plans and does not provide for emergency listing of local heritage places.
A number of the nominations for emergency protection received by the South Australian Heritage Council are for local heritage places not identified through surveys or protected within Development Plans.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources is working with the Department of Planning and Local Government and the Minister for State/Local Government Relations to increase the number of Local Councils that recognise and protect their local heritage.