Significant changes to the Queensland planning system have occurred requiring the preparation of planning schemes that comply with the Planning Act 2016.
The Planning Act 2016 was assented in May 2016 and from mid-2017 will replace the Sustainable Planning Act 2009. While the basic planning system will remain the same, there will be some key changes which will directly impact on the way heritage is protected and managed in Queensland.
While the current planning system recognises a need for planning schemes to address heritage as a State interest (as per the State Planning Policy, April 2016), planning schemes have had an almost exclusive focus on non-Indigenous heritage. In what others have noted to be a planning first, especially for Queensland, any decision-making processes made under the new Act must now explicitly take into account Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander interests. That is, planning agencies and other entities bound by the Act will be required to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge, culture and tradition is addressed through the inclusion of adequate planning practices, policies and schemes. Arguably the most important of these, due to Section 5 (2) (d) and (e) of the new Act , Council planning schemes will be required to ensure they facilitate “valuing, protecting and promoting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge, culture and tradition”, and that they also help “conserve places of cultural heritage significance.”
The new Planning Act 2016 therefore has in many ways the potential to “mainstream” Indigenous heritage matters in ways otherwise unavailable up until this time under Queensland’s primary Indigenous heritage legislation.
How will this play out in reality? Well, only time can tell. The decision by the State to undertake a review of the Duty of Care process and guidelines (as gazetted under Queensland’s Indigenous heritage legislation), however, does come at what is arguably a critical juncture in the way Indigenous heritage is recognised and importantly managed in the Queensland planning context. It presents a rare opportunity for the State and now local council to effect much needed changes to the system and hopefully shake up the status quo.
Heritage Consultant and Queensland Regional Manager, Niche Environment and Heritage
M: 0488 224 036
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