New heritage laws for Christmas Island

Dept of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications

I am pleased to announce new laws to support and manage private freehold properties with local heritage values on Christmas Island (CI). These changes will reduce red tape and deliver a streamlined approach to heritage management consistent with mainland Australia.

From 1 July 2022, the Christmas Island Applied Laws Amendment (Heritage) Ordinance 2022 will apply Western Australian (WA) heritage laws that better reflect the local heritage values that matter to the community.

Under the new rules, privately-owned heritage properties will no longer be regulated under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). Instead the same heritage laws regulating privately-owned properties in WA will apply to CI.

For these properties, this means future activities like renovations and minor repairs will no longer have to be referred to the Australian Environment Minister under the EPBC Act – a process which takes time, is costly and is inconsistent with practices on mainland Australia.

Going forward planning and development decisions about private heritage properties will be managed through the Shire of CI, with support from the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications and the WA Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage.

I know how important heritage values are to the CI community and the Australian Government remains committed to implementing a sustainable approach to managing properties and places of historical importance, in line with community expectations.

This legislative reform will support the implementation of the Christmas Island Strategic Assessment (CISA) program, which will reduce regulatory burden and facilitate sustainable development on CI for generations to come.

We will keep you updated as we continue to progress the CISA program over the coming months and roll out key supporting projects. We will continue to work with the Shire of CI on key components such as supporting a local heritage survey and the establishment of a Local Heritage List, to support the long-term sustainability and liveability of CI.

The new ordinance is available to view here: https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2022L00525

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