Tuesday, August 21, 2012


then                          now

Places in the world that have been listed as being of World Heritage importance have an iconic presence in our experience and become anchors for quality, ideals and significance that seem so elusive today whem minds are turned to making profits and reputations. This international status confers an importance that is recognised by many as being necessary for the maintenance of the character and relevance for which these listings have been made. Such categorisation of places not only identifies their meaning, but also adds some protection to them by way of international supervision. After all, these listings are made for the world, not for any local tourist trade, even though this may benefit. So surely it appears silly to express some alarm at the possibility that a World Heritage area might be at risk?

Other countries manage their World Heritage places with much pride and care, but Australia seems unconcerned about the rigour and commitment that is necessary to maintain such places, as it delights in their tourist potential. Has this carelessness something to do with the 'she'll be right mate' attitude that is promoted as being 'Aussie' with the same brash and pushy ceretainty that the cry 'un-Australian ' is made when things appear unfair or oddly different?

The following article in The Courier Mail makes one very worried about things World Heritage as well as all of those other special areas that have been put aside as our National Parks, as places of national importance:

Newman Government Minister Steve Dickson claims previous government should go to jail for state of Qld's finances

A NEWMAN Government minister has declared the previous government should go to jail for the mess it made of Queensland's finances.
National Parks, Sport and Racing Minister Steve Dickson said he was looking for as many savings as he could make ahead of next month's Budget, and seeking submissions from private enterprise to run commercial activities in parkland.
"I come from private enterprise, and if I did in private enterprise what the last government did, I'd be in jail,'' Mr Dickson said.
"That's the truth. You can't do what they've done to the business of Queensland and think it's all going to be okay.''
He said part of his vision for national parks was developing an income stream from private enterprise.
"We're open to all ideas and suggestions be they crazy to some people,'' Mr Dickson said.
"We won't accept them all but out of 100 ideas we might get 20 or 30 that might work extremely well and I'm yet to see them all.
"We're not environmental destroyers, we've got to do what the community will accept.''
Of the 12.5 million hectares of land managed by his department, Mr Dickson said just 17 per cent was covered by management plans.
"Eighty-three per cent of that land, they have no idea what they're doing with.  It could be utilised for grazing, some will be utilised for logging, some of it's going to be utilised for many, many different purposes,'' he said.
The parameters for development in National Parks would be decided firstly by local councils, and then ultimately by the State Government.
"I don't know whether or not we want to be building chairlifts at Mount Coolum but we have Skywalk up in Cairns that goes through national park,'' said Mr Dickson.
"There are some really really good ideas, but it is a matter of delivering a good idea that is financially viable.''
The Minister was visiting the National Parks and Wildlife stand at the Ekka and talking to rangers who present the "creature features'' show.

our World Heritage - biodiversity, not the picturesque

The alarming thing is that the only guage for outcomes that this Minister seems to think is revelvant is commercial profit. Why should a National Park or a World Heritage-listed place have such guidelines to measure any effectiveness of outcome? The real worry is that there appears to be a complete lack of underdstanding of what these places are, and why they have been indentified as being unique. So should one be worried about Springbrook in particular? Surely it is well protected being both National Park and part of a World Heritage-listed region - a double significance that must make its special attributes obvious to even a fool? Why worry?

There is a history to the desecration of important places in our world. Wars take no speciual action to protect significant places. These may get some relief when individuals sensitive to these qualities are in control, through their personal concerns, but generally other ambitions take over with a blind arrogance and determintion. The most recent desecration of a World Heritage site is the blasting of the Bamiyan buddhas by the Taliban. These ancient wodners were fired at for days until they remained merely voids in the rock face. It was a sad time, a loss that even the begging cry of the world could not stop. There was a detemrination to spitefully show the world what the Taliban could do. The actions seemed to want to highlight the determination of these people; the superiority of their beliefs. The Buddhas that stood for centuries have now gone.

There are paralells here with the Neuman government that seems determined to show how it is right and will right matters that its' visions claim to be wrong. In spite of the cry of many, the actions continue, almost spitefully, as if to prove a point beyond the obvious - to rub others' faces in the mess that this government believes has been made. Will it leave merely a void in the substance of our importance, our significance?

This is the concern with World Heritage. It has been and can be again anhilated by those who have other beliefs and undertsandings, as if only these are right. The problem of right being arrogantly right remains the threat. An undertsanding of the subtleties of substance needs a responsive, questioning mind that thinks, questions and cares. All we are seeing from the Neuman government is the demand of 'me and my might,' and the claim that all others who think differently are wrong.: 'don't you worry about that!' The threat to our World Heritage is real. Remember the Buddhas.

The  void that once held the Buddha

Will the Neuman government be the Taliban of Queensland? Maybe the gathering of National Parks into the same ministry as Sports and Racing shows the governmet's undertsanding of the issues. Or does this show the Government's contempt for them? Is it gambling with our heritage in front of those who care, like a spiteful bully in a playground breaking the thing most loved by the weeping onlooker. Who should be jailed?

Springbrook weeping?

It is not just one Minister who is exhibiting this blind arrogance. In formal correpsondence from the Minister for Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts, (does this scheduling say somethnig about art?), Ros Bates, State member for Mudgeeraba notes awkwardly:
'Being that this year we have seen a change in representation at both State government level for Queensland and at a local council level for Springbrook, we have an opportunity to develop a plan for the area without the constraints that have previously held us back.'

This communication was forwarded to a select group of people - the 'us' that seems to have a certain agenda - inviting them to attend a meeting to discuss Springbrook's future:
'I am looking forward to working with you on the day and into the future in the best interests of Springbrook.' - to implement the agenda that has been kept a secret until now?

This communication seems to illustrate the conceited spite that this government is declaring so blatantly, first by noting that it now holds power to do whatever it might want to do; and secondly by choosing to ignore those who have worked, and still work, so hard for Springbrook's future as a place of World Heritage importance, with a continuing World Heritage significance for other generations to come. If one did care for the future of this World Heritage area, then the whole community should become engaged in this enterprise, not just the selected few who might be favoured by the local member and are preapred to help her achieve her personal ambitions that seem to seek revenge rather than any real regional improvement. This strategy of aligning the support of the chosen few to co-operate with an elected member's scheming has been tried before. It does nothing useful for any future. it merely creates problems, enhances differences and generates strife.

Poor Springbrook. Is this World Heritage at threat? Will we be left only with a void to let  the future know what once was?

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