The protection of Australia’s natural and cultural heritage is one of the most challenging and controversial issues in current environmental debates. This is particularly the case in the context of indigenous cultural heritage which has received the recent attention of legislators in Queensland, the Australian Capital Territory and Victoria. The focus of cultural heritage legislation enacted or currently under consideration in Australian State and Territory jurisdictions has been twofold. First, the legislation aims to create a decision making framework within which indigenous people have a meaningful (and in some cases, determinative) role in conserving their heritage. Secondly, recent reforms have focussed on the need for effective integration of indigenous cultural heritage protection into resource management and land use planning practices. This article outlines a number of reform initiatives contained in the first of this new generation of indigenous cultural heritage laws, focussing on the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2003 (Qld). Some comparisons will be drawn between the Queensland legislation, the Heritage Act 2004 (ACT) and the recently enacted Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 (Vic). Recent Australian indigenous cultural heritage laws are moving towards achieving significant improvements in the way such heritage is identified, managed and protected. However, the divergent approaches to indigenous heritage in Australian State and Territory legislation continue to leave the effective regulation of this important area in uncertainty for Aboriginal people and those parties who own or use areas that contain indigenous cultural heritage.
Macquarie Journal Of International And Comparative Environmental Law Collection
Publisher version archived with the permission of the Dean, Division of Law, Macquarie University, NSW, Australia. This copy is available for individual, non-commercial use. Permission to reprint/republish this version for other uses must be obtained from the publisher.