Australia's Indigenous Cultural Heritage Continues To Be Threatened

When Queensland elected a Labor government in July 1998, Aborigines and Islanders hoped and expected that the new Premier would replace existing cultural heritage legislation.

During 1999 the new Government undertook extensive negotiations with the Queensland Indigenous Working Group (QIWG) on proposed new legislation and negotiators were hopeful of a positive outcome. However, when the Draft Model was released just before Christmas, QIWG were deeply disappointed. The proposed law would streamline clearance processes to facilitate development but offer little by way of additional protection for cultural heritage. It would leave the final say on the significance of sites to nonindigenous public servants and politicians, deny any substantial role to traditional owners, and introduce racially discriminatory provisions in relation to payment of indigenous cultural heritage workers.

During February and March 2000 the Draft Model will be subject to public comment, with the new legislation to be introduced in June 2000. QIWG will be strongly opposing the Government's proposal and in doing so seeks the support of all those who believe in the protection and maintenance of indigenous cultures.

Article copyright Cultural Survival, Inc.

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