The Commonwealth retains a role in ensuring good governance of the self-governing territories through administration of the Acts relating to self-government arrangements. This includes appointing administrators to territories and some matters relating to the role of Canberra as the national capital.
Australian Capital Territory
In the 2002-03 financial year, the department managed two administered programmes and six departmental programmes to compensate the Australian Capital Territory Government for costs incurred as a result of Canberra being the National Capital.
Advice was also provided to the minister in relation to policy issues associated with the Australian Capital Territory (Planning and Land Management) Act 1988, including appointments to the National Capital Authority. Minor amendments to the Australian Capital Territory Self-Government Act 1988 and the Australian Capital Territory (Planning and Land Management) Act 1988 were assented to by the Governor-General in February 2003.
The minister was advised on legislative matters associated with his responsibilities and on matters designed to improve governance structures and electoral reform in the territory and on the appointment of the next administrator. Norfolk Island governance was also assisted through funding and support initiatives.
Progress continued with the Commonwealth/Norfolk Island Crown Land Initiative, an initiative introduced in June 2000 to bring Norfolk Island land management arrangements closer to those prevailing in other Australian communities.
As part of the Land Initiative, in May 2003 the Governor-General assented to a number of Bills covering planning, environment and heritage and land use issues. The remaining Land Initiative prerequisites are still being progressed and it is expected that the transfer of selected Crown leasehold land to freehold title will commence in 2003-04.
The department provided $0.52 million in funding towards the conservation, stabilisation, maintenance and interpretation of heritage buildings, and other heritage values, located within the Kingston and Arthur's Vale Historic Area (KAVHA). The department also continued to provide representation on the KAVHA Management Board. An ongoing programme of restoration for Norfolk Island Government House, the residence of the administrator, was also funded.
An agreement for a loan of $5.8 million for runway resurfacing on Norfolk Island is being negotiated with the Norfolk Island Government. The terms of the loan are expected to be finalised early in 2003-04.
The department administered a number of loans on behalf of the Commonwealth for assets transferred to the Northern Territory Government at the time of self-government.