ACT Heritage Council

Legislative framework and functions

The ACT Heritage Council (the Council) is established under the Heritage Act 2004. The Council’s functions are:

  • to identify, assess, conserve and promote places and objects
  • to encourage the registration of heritage places and objects
  • to work within the land planning and development system to achieve appropriate conservation of the ACT’s natural and cultural heritage places and objects, including Aboriginal places and objects
  • to advise the Minister about issues affecting the management and promotion of heritage
  • to encourage and assist in appropriate management of heritage places and objects
  • to encourage public interest in, and understanding of, issues relevant to the conservation of heritage places and objects
  • to encourage and provide public education about heritage places and objects
  • to assist in the promotion of tourism in relation to heritage places and objects
  • to keep adequate records, and encourage others to keep adequate records, in relation to heritage places and objects.

Membership

In addition to two ex-officio members, the Chief Planning Executive and the Conservator of Flora and Fauna, a maximum of nine expert and public representative members are appointed to the Council by the Minister.

Membership of the ACT Heritage Council at 30 June 2014 was:

  • Mr Duncan Marshall (Chair)
  • Dr Dianne Firth (Deputy Chair)
  • Ms Pamela O’Neil
  • Ms Sharon Payne
  • Mr Doug Williams
  • Dr Mary Hutchinson
  • Dr Hanna Jaireth
  • Mr John Kenworthy
  • Mr George Bailey

Three of these memberships continued throughout the reporting period (Mr Marshall, Dr Firth and Ms O’Neil). One member was re-appointed on 12 June following expiration of her initial appointment period (Ms Payne). Mr John Kemister retired from Council in July 2013.

The appointments of Dr Michael Pearson AO, Dr Lenore Coltheart, Mr John Miller and Dr Warren Nicholls expired in May and June 2014.

The appointments of Mr Doug Williams, Dr Mary Hutchinson, Dr Hanna Jaireth, Mr John Kenworthy and Mr George Bailey were announced on 12 June 2014.

Meetings

Eight Council meetings were held during the 2013–14 reporting period. Apart from fulfilling legislative requirements in relation to heritage registrations and providing advice on development applications (DAs) referred to it by the planning and land authority, the Council also advised the Minister generally on heritage issues in the ACT. Some issues were considered by members out of session as one of the means by which the Council conducts its business.

Taskforces

During 2013–14, the Council’s taskforce system continued to provide opportunities for members to participate in consideration of a wide range of matters as well as a number of projects. Nineteen taskforce meetings were held during the year.

Development applications taskforce

This taskforce considered DAs referred to Council by the planning and land authority. Membership of this taskforce for the majority of the 2013–14 reporting period comprised Mr Marshall, Dr Pearson,
Dr Firth and Mr Miller. The taskforce met seven times during the year.

Register assessment taskforce

The register assessment taskforce continued its work of assessing nominations to the ACT Heritage Register. Membership consisted of Mr Marshall, Dr Pearson, Dr Firth, Dr Coltheart, Dr Nicholls and
Ms O’Neil. The taskforce met six times during the year.

Aboriginal heritage taskforce

Membership of the Aboriginal heritage taskforce was Dr Pearson, Ms Payne, Ms O’Neil and Dr Nicholls. This taskforce met twice during the year.

Conservation management plan taskforce

This taskforce considers Conservation Management Plans submitted to the Council for approval.
The taskforce, comprising Mr Marshall, Dr Coltheart and Dr Firth, met three times during the year.

Heritage grants taskforce

This taskforce was established in 2013 to seek comments on the grant projects recommended by ACT Heritage to the Minister for his approval. The taskforce comprised Ms Pamela O’Neil, Dr Warren Nicholls and Ms Sharon Payne.

Promotion of heritage awareness

The ACT Heritage Council supported a diverse range of activities aimed at promoting and celebrating the ACT’s heritage. The largest of these was the 2014 Canberra and Region Heritage Festival, which continues to serve as an important vehicle for heritage promotion, awareness and education. The theme for the 2014 Heritage Festival, held from 5-21 April 2014, was ‘Journeys’ and there were 16 new event organisers. The program included 112 events and involved 60 groups and individuals from the private, government and community sectors. Councillors attended the festival launch and other events.

‘Down the Garden Path’, a fundraising event for the P&C of the heritage-registered Ainslie Primary School, was held for the third year. The event featured the school catchment area of Braddon, with people able to visit different buildings and gardens. Dr Coltheart and Mr Marshall gave talks along the route highlighting the history of the original Ainslie Public School and current school, and the rewards and challenges of living in a heritage precinct.

Intergovernmental relations

The Council Chairperson and Acting Secretary attended the Heritage Chairs and Officials of Australia and New Zealand (HCOANZ) meeting in Hobart in April 2014. The Acting Secretary participated in the Heritage Officials of Australia and New Zealand meeting in Melbourne in October 2013. HCOANZ provides for the exchange of information across jurisdictions (Australia and New Zealand) and the sharing of knowledge, expertise and experiences.

Conserving Aboriginal heritage

The Council considered conservation works for a number of Aboriginal sites during the year, including the following key examples of this work.

The significance of Aboriginal sites in the development footprint of the Royalla Solar Farm was assessed by Cultural Heritage Management Australia and included detailed archaeological investigations involving the Representative Aboriginal Organisations (RAOs). In 2013 the Council approved a Conservation Management Plan outlining mitigation recommendations and archaeological testing methodologies for sites within the area. Test excavations and collection of artefacts at Aboriginal sites involved the RAOs, with all sites of high significance avoided by development at the solar farm.

The Council provided detailed advice to TAMS on heritage matters concerning the Molonglo River Park, the Molonglo River Reserve Plan of Management and the cultural heritage studies undertaken to inform these. These heritage studies identified several high-significance Aboriginal sites, including scarred trees and prehistoric campsites. Again, test excavations and landscape surveys involved the RAOs, and the Council will continue to work closely with TAMS to ensure ongoing conservation and recognition of the importance of these places.

The Council provided advice to the National Capital Authority on a solar farm project in the Majura Valley. On-site discussions were held between the Council, the developer (Solar Fields) and the RAOs. As a result, the developer has pledged to use low-impact technologies to minimise impacts on potential archaeological deposits, and will continue to liaise with the RAOs as plans for the proposal are further consolidated.

Return to Country

Artefacts collected from the Enlarged Cotter Dam project were reburied in the Cotter River corridor during a Return to Country event approved by the RAOs and Council, and involving RAOs, Parks and City Services and the Bulk Water Alliance. This was the third repatriation of stone artefacts to occur under the Heritage Act 2004. The objects were reburied in a location managed by Parks and City Services and a detailed recording of the new deposit lodged with ACT Heritage. A sample of rare and highly significant artefacts has been retained with the intention of future curation for education purposes.

Aboriginal Heritage policies

In 2013 the Council approved project briefs for four policies concerning the conduct of cultural heritage reporting, repatriation of Aboriginal artefacts, consultation with RAOs and methodological requirements for archaeological investigations in the ACT.

The research (draft) component of each policy was submitted to ACT Heritage in 2014 with recommendations for adoption into future Council policies. The Council will be asked to endorse each policy after additional work has been completed to ensure the documents accord with the proposed Heritage Amendment Bill, existing Council policies and guidelines, and priorities.

Heritage Register

The Council continued to process the backlog of places and objects nominated to the Heritage Register over many years. During 2013–14:

  • 3 nominations were made to the ACT Heritage Register; one of these was dismissed under Section 30 of the Heritage Act as the Council had previously decided not to register the place and was satisfied the nomination showed no new grounds for registration
  • 28 decisions were made on provisional registration, including decisions not to provisionally register
  • 2 decisions were made on full registration
  • 43 nominations were identified as probable duplications.
Decisions not to provisionally register Decisions to provisionally register Decisions to register

Turner Housing Precinct, Turner

ACT Water Police Headquarter’s Cottage, Yarralumla

Mount Stromlo Observatory Precinct, Stromlo

Scrivener Dam, Yarralumla

Former Patent Office Building , Barton

Commonwealth Avenue Offices (Treasury Building), Parkes

Reserve Bank of Australia Building, City

Blue Range Arboreta No. 8 and No. 9

Glenloch Cork Oak Plantation, Molonglo Valley

Glenloch Cork Oak Plantation, Molonglo Valley

St Andrew’s Church Precinct, Forrest

St Andrew’s Church Precinct, Forrest

Royal Australian Naval Transmitting Station, Lawson

Duntroon House and Garden, Campbell

Tidbinbilla Tracking Station, Paddy’s River

Gungahlin Homestead, Gungahlin

Kingston Foreshore Populus Euphratica

St Ninian’s Church Elm Trees

Malcolm Vale, Majura

CSIRO Limestone Avenue Boulders, Campbell

Margaret Timpson Park, Belconnen

Hibernian Hotel Site, Kowen

Crinigan’s Hut Artefact Collection

Shakespeare Hall (formerly St Columba’s Presbyterian Church Hall) Braddon

Torrens Street Verge Trees, Braddon

Northbourne Avenue Designated Area

Radio Hill, Fyshwick

Havelock House, Turner

Burton House Site, Gungahlin

Northbourne Flats, Braddon and Turner

At the start of the reporting period the backlog was 190 places. However, given there are some duplications of nominations (for example, some places have multiple nominations), at the end of the period the backlog was estimated to be 130 places. Duplications are removed at the time the assessment of that place/object occurs.

Council adopted a Heritage Assessment Policy to assist with its registration activities.

Appeals in the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT)

The Council was party to four hearings in ACAT on appealed registration decisions.

During 2013–14, a registration decision for St Patrick’s Church in Braddon, appealed during 2012–13, continued. The matter was heard from 6–10 May 2013 and 15–16 July 2013. On 20 September 2013 the Tribunal ordered that the decision to register St Patrick’s Church to the ACT Heritage Register be set aside and substituted with a decision not to register the place.

During 2013–14, a registration decision for the Yarralumla Brickworks Railway Remnants in Yarralumla, appealed during 2012–13, continued. On 10 September 2013 the Tribunal made orders by consent to vary the decision. On 7 November 2013 the Council prepared a register entry for the Remnants to accord with the Tribunal orders.

During 2013–14 the hearing continued for an application submitted during 2012–13 to review the registration decision to register the ‘Expansion’ Mosaic Mural Wall in Braddon as a ‘place’.
The application, submitted by the proprietor of the property, argued that the mural should be listed as an ‘object’. It was common ground that the mural has heritage significance. The Tribunal heard the matter on 13–14 June 2013. On 5 July 2013 the Tribunal found that the decision to register the mural as a ‘place’ should be set aside and replaced with a decision to register it as an ‘object’.

In 2013–14, a decision by the Council not to register the Turner Housing Precinct in Turner was appealed. The matter was heard 25–28 November 2013. On 29 January 2014 the Tribunal handed down its decision, upholding the Council’s decision not to register the place.

Administrative support

ACT Heritage continued to provide administrative support for the Council during 2013–14.

Remuneration

ACT Heritage Council members are entitled to remuneration as determined by the ACT Remuneration Tribunal. Remuneration paid to Council members during the year to 30 June 2014 totalled $30,239.

Further information can be obtained from:

Anna Gurnhill
Acting Manager, ACT Heritage
Telephone: 02 6207 7302
Email: anna.gurnhill@act.gov.au