Commonwealth Consolidated Acts

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U nderwater Cultural Heritage R ules

  (1)   The Minister may, by legislative instrument, make rules (the Underwater Cultural Heritage R ules ) prescribing matters:

  (a)   required or permitted by this Act to be prescribed by the Underwater Cultural Heritage R ules; or

  (b)   necessary or convenient to be prescribed for carrying out or giving effect to this Act , the Australia - Netherlands Agreement or any other relevant agreement .

  (2)   The Underwater Cultural Heritage R ules may provide for charging fees in respect of any matters under this Act .

  (3)   Without limiting subsection   33(3A) of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 , the Underwa ter Cultural Heritage R ules:

  (a)   may be of general application or may be limited as provided in the rules; and

  (b)   may make different provision in relation to different kinds of underwater cultural heritage, circumstances or any other matter.

  ( 4 )   Despite subsection   14(2) of the Legislation Act 2003 , th e Underwater Cultural Heritage R ules may make provision in relation to a matter by applying, adopting or incorporating, with or without modification, any matter contained in any other instrument or other writing as in force or existing from time to time.

  (5)   To avoid doubt, th e Underwater Cultural Heritage R ules may not do the following:

  (a)   create an offence or civil penalty;

  (b)   provide powers of:

  (i)   arrest or detention; or

  (ii)   entry, search or seizure;

  (c)   impose a tax;

  (d)   set an amount to be appropriated from the Consolidated Revenue Fund under an appropriation in this Act;

  (e)   directly amend the text of this Act.

  ( 6 )   In this section, a reference to this Act does not include a reference to the Underwater Cultural Heritage R ules .


This Act provides for the protection of Australia's underwater cultural heritage.

Different kinds of articles of underwater cultural heritage are , or can be, protected, depending on the kinds of article s , their heritage significance and their location.

For example, remains of vessels that have been in Australian waters for at least 75 years are automatically protected , as are certain articles associated with vessels and remains of vessels . Austr alian waters extend from the seaward limits of a State to the outer limit of Australia's continental shelf.

The remains of aircraft and certain associated articles that have been in Commonwealth waters for at least 75 years are also automatically protected. Commonwealth waters extend :

  (a)   from waters 3 nautical miles seaward of the baseline of the territorial sea that are adjacent to t he States and the Northern Territory; and

  (b)   to the outer limit of Australia's continental shelf.

Other kinds of articles of underwater cultural heritage can be protect ed if the Minister is satisfied that the y are of heritage significance. Such articles may be in Commonwealth waters, Australian waters or in waters beyond Australian waters , depending on the kind of article concerned .

Some a rticle s are, or can be , protected even if they have a lready been removed from those waters . In all cases, if an article is removed from waters after it becomes protected, the protection continues to apply to it.

If an article of underwater cultural heritage is protected, certain conduct in relation to the article is generally prohibited without a permit. Such conduct includes the following:

  (a)   anything that has or is likely to have an adverse impact on the article;

  (b)   possessin g the article;

  (c)   supplying, or offering to supply, the article;

  (d)   importing or exporting the article.

The Minister can declare an area containing protected underwater cultural heritage to be a protecte d zone, if the area is in Australian waters and the declaration would be consistent with the objects of this Act . The declaration may regulate or prohibit the kinds of activities that can be u ndertaken in the protected zone .

The Minister has various powers to gather information on the location of articles that are, or may be, protected underwater cultural heritage, and to give directions in relation to articles, including to store them in a particular way or to deliver the m to other people .

Inspectors have powers to ensure people are complying with th is Act, to investigate non - compliance and to enforce this Act . Enforcement mechanisms include infringement notices, enforceable undertakings and injunctions.

The Minister maintains a register in relation to underwater cultural heritage. The register includes information relating to the location of known remains of vessels and other articles in waters, declarations that have been made and permits that have been granted , as well as other information.

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