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Uncertainty over mandatory cultural surveys for farming from Aboriginal heritage federal reforms by Labor

Uncertainty over mandatory surveys for farming businesses raises concerns, the Nationals seek common sense solutions amid anxiety.

By news@gippsland - 31st July 2023 - Back to News

The Federal Labor government is refusing to rule out mandatory cultural surveys in its proposed Aboriginal heritage reforms. When asked during Parliament's Question Time if Labor would rule out mandatory surveys on farming businesses Australia-wide, Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek couldn't rule it out. When pressed to clarify if agricultural practices would be impacted, Minister Plibersek simply responded, "what we are seeking to do is to update our First Nations cultural heritage protections."

Labor government uncertain on mandatory cultural surveys in Aboriginal heritage reforms; seeks to update First Nations heritage protections

Labor government uncertain on mandatory cultural surveys in Aboriginal heritage reforms; seeks to update First Nations heritage protections

Cultural heritage act concerns

It comes after the Federal Labor government released an 'Options Paper' for a national model, after Western Australia introduced a Cultural Heritage Act. The changes in WA impact those with blocks of more than 1100 square metres and require cultural surveys for digging a hole more than 50 centimetres, or lifting more than 20 kilograms of dirt, for activities such as mending fences, planting trees or clearing tracks.

Penalties range from $25,000 to $1 million for individuals, and between $250,000 to $10 million for corporations, as well as jail time. Leader of The Nationals David Littleproud said it was disappointing the Federal Labor government was unable to give Australian farmers and producers more certainty about future reforms. "Cultural surveys in WA cost between $120 to $160 an hour or $1200 a day, plus travel expenses," Mr Littleproud said.

Concern over cultural surveys

Mr Littleproud said, "It is an overreach of government and a worrying sign if the Federal Labor government is unable to rule out mandatory cultural surveys similar to those in WA. Australian farmers have a strong record of protecting cultural sites and working hand-in-hand with Indigenous Australians, but WA's new laws are an overreach and if adopted nationally would divide communities."

Mr Littleproud added the Federal Labor government's Options Paper was creating anxiety and could also impact future property developments and their design. "The Nationals seek a common sense solution but Labor will not bring Australians into their trust because they refuse to provide details on their proposed reforms."

Pictures from Victorian Farmers Federation Facebook page.


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