On 19 February 2007 amendments to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) took effect which for the first time established a formal mechanism for the preparation of priority assessment lists (formal work plans) for the Council's assessments of places for the National Heritage List and Commonwealth Heritage List.
As part of the procedures the Minister invites the public to submit nominations for the lists for consideration for the next assessment period (a financial year). The EPBC Act requires the Minister to give the Australian Heritage Council the nominations received during the invitation period together with any nominations received before that period but not yet given to the Council.
Considering the priority lists
In preparing its proposed priority assessment lists (PPALs) for the coming financial year, the Council must consider:
- the new nominations from the most recent invitation period given to the Council by the Minister
- the nominations given to the Council for assessment for the previous year's PPAL development that were not included in the finalised priority assessment lists (FPALs) for that period (places are only be eligible for consideration for the development of two consecutive PPALs; those that fail to make FPAL the second time are not be eligible for consideration for future PPALs unless they are re-nominated).
The Council itself can nominate places for inclusion in the PPALs.
The Council decides on the inclusions in the PPALs, and may consider its capacity to make assessments and any other matter it considers appropriate. It is not required to include any place in the lists if it considers that it is unlikely that the place has any of the requisite heritage values. In preparing the lists, the Council is not required to consider any information beyond that included in the nomination.
The Council also considers the staff and financial resources available in the Division for assessments.
The PPALs are provided to the Minister within the statutory timeframe set out in the EPBC Act. The Minister has 20 business days to consider the PPALs and has the power to change the lists proposed by the Council. After the 20 day period, the PPALs become FPALs with or without ministerial changes.
The Council must publish the FPALs and seek public comment on the places in the FPALs as part of its statutory assessment processes.