Submission by the Polish Historical Institute
in Australia Inc.

druk
Productivity Commission Inquiry into
the Conservation of Historic Heritage Places

Topic: Mount Kosciuszko National Park

1. Background.

International Significance of the Australian Alps National Parks

The Australian Alps National Parks, which includes Mount Kosciuszko glaciated areais noted as containing geological and geomorphological values of International andNational significance. The Australian Heritage Database [www.deh.gov.au/heritage] includes Mount Kosciuszko Glaciated Area, Summit Rd, Charlotte’s Pass [Place ID 103691] on the Register of the National Estate. It states there that Kosciuszko National Park was declared a World Biosphere Reserve in 1977 under the UNESCO Man and Biosphere Program. The glaciated area is unique in mainland Australia in exhibiting landforms shaped by Pleistocene glaciations.

Mount Kosciuszko National Park as an historic heritage place and natural heritage site.

The Park includes built heritage places such as huts, villages and roads; places of historic significance such as Mount Kosciuszko, first established as Australia’s highest mountain by the Polish explorer Paul Edmund de Strzelecki as well as its natural heritage encompassing its geology, ecology, flora and fauna.

2. Mount Kosciuszko National Park – heritage issues.

This submission provides some examples of negative regulatory activity by outlining decisions by a state government agency relating specifically to Mount Kosciuszko. It highlights the need for regulatory controls at a national level. These controls require consultation from stakeholders and should be included in any future policy framework.

Issue 1: Renaming the mountain and park by the NSW Parks and Wildlife Service

The NSW Parks and Wildlife Service’s (NP&WS) intention to rename the mountain and park was outlined in their Kosciuszko National Park Draft Management Plan (2004). This could be to an Aboriginal name or to dual names.

Both the Polish Community Council of Australia and New Zealand Inc. and the Mount Kosciuszko Inc. provided submissions opposing this. Their submissions can be found, respectively, at:

liscThe Polish Community Council of Australia and New Zealand’s submission also documents the role of the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife toward the Polish community and the subsequent outcomes. If the Foundation is an independent body from the NP&WS whose mission supports that of the NP&WS, the Institute questions the motives of this body toward the conservation of the Mount Kosciuszko National Park.

The Institute agrees with the position of the Polish Community Council of Australia & New Zealand and of the Mount Kosciuszko Inc. in their submissions that the name Mount Kosciuszko be retained.

We also regard Mount Kosciuszko National Park as being the jurisdiction of the federal government because it is a nationally significant historic heritage place important to all Australians not just those living in New South Wales. National significance requires policy frameworks to be devised and administered at a national level. Conserving this area for its economic, social and environmental benefits would require Commonwealth-State cooperation [public and private], which a policy framework could address in a complex and detailed way.

Community representatives, as well inter-governmental representatives, should be considered as stakeholders in management of Mount Kosciuszko National Park.

Issue 2: Removal of plaque by NSW Parks and Wildlife Service

Mount Kosciuszko has two plaques concerning its discovery, description and name. The first and more accurate one made in bronze also includes Strzelecki’s contribution, was unveiled by the Polish Embassy in 1940. This was removed by the Service circa 1999/2000 and now resides at the Polish Embassy, Canberra.

A second one (plastic) was substituted by the NP&WS, which is less accurate. It does not state what Strzelecki’s achievement were, nor does it mention other members of Strzelecki’s party including two Aboriginal guides, Charlie Tarra and Jackey. These details are included in the original bronze plaque.

liscThe Institute questions the motives of the NP&WS. If management of the Kosciuszko National Park was widened to include other stakeholders, such a decision would have been questioned by a larger group of Australians which most likely would haveled to a different outcome.

It is imperative that conservation of historic heritage places includes maintaining (or restoring where necessary) the evidence of the exploration process of Australia. This is one example.

The Polish Historical Institute in Australia is expressing a wish of a number of Australians of Polish origin in demanding that the original plaque is reinstated and Strzelecki’s role in the exploration of this region of Australia is acknowledged.

(For further information on Strzelecki visit the Mount Kosciuszko Inc. website at http://mtkosciuszko.org.au).

3: Role of stakeholders

This submission would like to stress the importance and need to include a range of stakeholders in the conservation of Australia’s historic heritage places. They can range from specialists like conservationists, and historians to members of the general departments, others from the private sector. Between them, they have wide-ranging knowledge and many man years of experience. This should be utilised.

The issues raised here also highlight the importance of maintaining an accurate record of Australian ethnic history – in this instance Polish Australian history. Although tangible heritage is outside the scope of this inquiry, historic heritage places cannot be divorced from its history, because the intangible can provide insight into a problem, an activity or solution.

liscPolish heritage in Australia is much wider than Mount Kosciuszko. It includes such historic places as buildings known as Dom Polski [Polish Houses], found in all state capital cities; churches built from national subscriptions from Polish Australians (e.g. Marayong Polish War Chapel, Sydney); places of historic significance such as the Melbourne Cricket Ground which hosted the 1986 meeting of Pope John Paul II with the Polish Australian community. These too require to be included in the policy framework. State and federal governments do not seem to have good access to umbrella organisations and leaders of ethnic communities in Australia at present. These should be identified as a stakeholder where appropriate and exploited in this role.

To that purpose the Institute provides a list of some Polish Australian organisations interested in the conservation of historic heritage places (contact details can be provided on request):

Wanda Horky
Director
Polish Historical Institute in Australia Inc.
28th July 2005

Disclaimer

This submission is the opinion of the Polish Historical Institute in Australia and does not represent the opinion of any organisations mentioned here with the exception of the submission prepared by the Polish Community Council (P.C.C) of Australia and New Zealand.