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  5. Mechanisms for protection in Australia
  6. Cultural heritage laws
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Cultural heritage laws

These laws have been established under Commonwealth, State and Territory jurisdictions. They give governments differing degrees of authority in maintaining heritage assets, including relics, sites, objects and environments. They are generally to do with tangible, rather than intellectual, assets. They are of benefit to the extent that they can be used to give formal recognition to places and products that are of particular sacred, ritual or ceremonial significance to Aboriginal peoples.

The most notable limitation of cultural heritage legislation is that it relies essentially on the discretion of a government minister. It is the State, Territory or Commonwealth minister who ultimately determines whether action should be taken to protect things because they have heritage value. There is a tendency to overlook intangible aspects associated with significant sites (eg stories, songs and Dreaming tracks); rather, the emphasis is placed on the scientific and historical aspects of sites and objects.

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