Minister Simon Corbell's claim (''Heritage protection is just a facade'', November 17, p3) that the Law Court building has no heritage listing, even though it was included in the former Register of the National Estate, highlights a national crisis concerning Australian heritage protection. This has resulted from a serious dumbing down in the conservation process due to discreditable Commonwealth decisions. Whether properties concern indigenous, natural or built-environment values, the unsuspecting public is faced with the defacement or destruction of places which, by due process, have been declared significant.
This minimisation of heritage warrants exposure. Between 1976 and 2000, the Australian Heritage Commission included some 14,000 places around the continent in the RNE. About half of this total was published in 1981. Then prime minister Malcolm Fraser introduced The Heritage of Australia with these positive words - ''to make sure that the National Estate is looked after in the way it deserves … although the Register of the National Estate still continues as a vast and ongoing undertaking''.