AgForce Policy Position: Cultural Heritage

Primary producers and indigenous people have various interests in the land in which agriculture is operated on within Queensland.
With governments seeking to progress Indigenous interests through reviewed cultural heritage legislation, AgForce notes the issue is important.
AgForce has a significant interest in how cultural heritage is managed and protected and in ensuring an effective, affordable, certain, and timely cultural heritage framework operates in Queensland.
This policy is aimed at ensuring that the interests of primary producers and indigenous people are protected under cultural heritage legislation.

AgForce endorses the following policy:

  • AgForce acknowledges and respects the cultural and spiritual relationship Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have with the country.
  • Representing landholders and respecting of their property rights, AgForce has a significant interest in how cultural heritage is managed and protected and in ensuring an effective, affordable, certain, and timely cultural heritage framework operates in Queensland.
  • For the greatest certainty and consistency, a registered native title holder under the Native Title Act 1993 should be the Aboriginal party or a Torres Strait Islander party for cultural heritage purposes.
  • AgForce does not support further legislative penalty or changes in existing compliance mechanisms, preferring a focus on effective education and assistance to landowners and users.
  • AgForce supports further efforts to ensure proactive Cultural Heritage identification and information being readily, but appropriately, available for awareness, research, and planning support concerning land development.
  • AgForce supports having a dispute resolution processes regarding the management of cultural heritage which facilitate the fair, timely and cost-efficient resolution of disagreements.

Cultural Heritage in Queensland


Land users in Queensland need to comply with the following cultural heritage laws:
  • Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2003
  • Torres Strait Islander Cultural Heritage Act 2003
The main purpose of the Cultural Heritage Acts is to provide effective recognition, protection, and conservation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural heritage.

Cultural Heritage Duty of Care

  • Under the Cultural Heritage Acts, all persons have a duty of care to protect cultural heritage when carrying out their activities. The duty of care applies to any activity where cultural heritage is located. This includes cultural heritage located on freehold land and regardless of whether or not it has been identified or recorded in a database.
  • Fines of up to $143,750 for an individual and $1,437,500 for a corporation apply for causing unlawful harm to cultural heritage or for breaching the duty of care.
  • Section 23(1) of the Act states that a person who carries out an activity must take all reasonable and practicable measures to ensure the activity does not harm Aboriginal cultural heritage (the “cultural heritage duty of care”) – Refer to Cultural Heritage Duty of Care Guidelines for further information.
Activity Categories
Landowners need to assess the potential impact of a proposed activity on the cultural heritage values of an area based on the nature of the activity and the likelihood of it causing harm to Aboriginal cultural heritage.
  • Category 1: Activities involving no surface disturbance (i.e., driving along existing roads /tracks)
  • Category 2: Activities causing no additional surface disturbance (i.e., cultivation of an area already subject to cultivation; grazing cattle on an area where cattle are currently grazed)
  • Category 3: Developed areas (i.e., area is developed or maintained for a particular purpose such as telecommunication tower or electricity easement)
  • Category 4: Areas previously subject to significant ground disturbance (i.e., disturbance by machinery of the topsoil or surface rock layer of the ground, such as by ploughing)
  • Category 5: Activities causing additional surface disturbance. (i.e., any disturbance of an area which causes a lasting impact to the land or waters during the activity or after the activity has ceased – e.g., building a new dam). Under the Duty of Care Guidelines, where an activity is proposed under category 5, there is generally a high risk it could harm Aboriginal cultural heritage. In these circumstances, the activity should not proceed without cultural heritage assessment. Where an activity is proposed under category 5, it is necessary to notify the Aboriginal party and seek advice about whether it will impact Aboriginal cultural heritage and, if it does, agree about how best the activity may be managed to avoid or minimise harm to any cultural heritage.