WA Premier Backflip on Aboriginal Heritage Act after Controversy!
Praise God that a degree of common sense comming from the WA Premier; but let’s hope that there is not a sting in the tail with this action that the WA government is forced into. Is the backflip in WA happening because it may be seen to harm the yes vote on the referendum, I do not trust Cook and his ALP team in WA. They have done some very harsh things over there as my family keep me well informed on many matters and I watch from a distance. It is always difficult to predict where things will go when power is given to people to interfere with another person’s property. The implications of the whole of the Uluru statement from the heart is very concerning as some extreme views will have non-Aboriginal people’s rights in a lot of jeopardy and uncertainty. We should not go forward into uncertainty but into certainty, but what is certain. I understand that the mining industry has knowingly damaged special lands of some of the Aboriginal people groups; these mining interests need to be put on notice and prevented from doing such harm to important sites.
I further note: that a tree planting planned for the 20th June was cancelled as notice of a claim of $2M was put up by the local Aboriginal Council if it were to proceed. I do hope that this act is removed completely and not replaced. I do hope that NSW will not attempt to go down any path near to the details in this act that should be withdrawn very quickly.
As reported today 5th August 2023
Cook government to scrap Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act after months of controversy
By WA state political reporter James Carmody
Posted 16h ago16 hours ago, updated 16h ago16 hours ago
The Aboriginal cultural heritage laws came into effect on July 1.(ABC Goldfields: Madison Snow )
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The West Australian government will scrap its controversial Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Laws within days, the ABC understands.
- The Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act had been a source of confusion and controversy
- It required many landholders to undertake detailed assessments before starting projects
- The ABC understands the laws are set to be scrapped in days
Premier Roger Cook and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Tony Buti will make an announcement early next week.
It follows months of harsh criticism of the laws and the government in the lead up to their implementation on July 1 and in the weeks following.
The criticism has been led by WA’s opposition parties — the Nationals and Liberals — along with farmers groups including WAFarmers and the Pastoralists and Graziers Association.
Roger Cook will make an announcement within coming days, the ABC understands.(ABC News: James Carmody)
It’s understood the state will revert to operating under the 1972 Aboriginal Cultural Heritage legislation.
The new legislation came into force to ‘modernise’ the existing process, which saw major problems exposed in the wake of the destruction of Juukan Gorge.
The laws require some WA landowners to check for the presence of cultural heritage before conducting any activities that may compromise such sites.
Where a risk exists, landowners may need to seek permits or prepare management plans depending on the type of activity and the extent to which the land will be cleared or disturbed.
The government also made numerous exemptions for lower-level works that did not previously exist.
Tone shifts over laws
At the time, the legislation was moved through parliament quickly and the Opposition voted in favour, but say that was something they now have come to regret.
Key criticisms of the act were that it was too confusing and unclear, that it would be too time consuming and too expensive for landowners to meet the requirements of it, and that it would be open to abuse.
WA Aboriginal Affairs Minister Tony Buti had denied there was uncertainty around the new cultural heritage laws. (ABC News: James Carmody)
For weeks the government has defended the act, but the tone of ministers has shifted more recently.
But members of the state and federal governments as recently as this week suggested criticism of the act by the Liberal Party amounted to a scare campaign aimed at fostering divisions ahead of the referendum on the Voice.
WA Liberal leader Libby Mettam described the government’s potential backflip as a “great win for landowners”.
“We understand the Labor government will backflip on the Aboriginal cultural heritage act laws that they introduced earlier in the year,” Ms Mettam said.
Libby Mettam described introduction of the laws as “shambolic”.(ABC News: Briana Shepherd)
“We’ve always committed to scrapping the cultural heritage act and going back to the drawing board.
“They were quite clearly an overreach on private property rights.
“They went way too far.
“And it was extraordinary how the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs was even unable to answer really basic questions about how this act would actually work.
“It has been shambolic from the start.”
Tony Seabrook is the president of the Pastoralists and Graziers Association WA, and said he wanted to see the act officially withdrawn.
“It’s fantastic news. We can’t ask for much more than what seems to have been what’s announced,” he said.
Tony Seabrook says the “message has finally gotten through”.(ABC News: James Carmody)
“There will be a lot of people all around regional Australia and a lot of landholders that will be sleeping a lot easier tonight than they were last night.
“I think the message has finally gotten through. This was a very poor piece of legislation and the community just didn’t want it.”
Mr Seabrook said “a very serious shot had been fired across the boughs” of people considering similar legislation in the eastern states.
Executive director of the Property Council WA Sandra Brewer said the group had held dozens of meetings this week with concerned members and industry groups.
“For some time, the property industry has had serious concerns about the operation of the act and had come to a position that the act was unworkable for various reasons,” she said.
“While the industry supports all of the intentions of the act to protect Aboriginal cultural heritage, it was found to have onerous requirements and wouldn’t have been successful in its current form.”
‘Saddened and heartbroken’
South West Land and Sea Council board member Michelle Nelson-Cox said she was very upset by the news.
Michelle Nelson-Cox is part of the organisation that administers the South West Native Title Settlement.(ABC News: Robert Koenig-Luck)
“I feel very saddened and heartbroken,” she said.
“It was going to allow better negotiations and genuine community partnership agreements, better accountability and transparency and most importantly protection of Aboriginal heritage
“It just seems a shame after all of the work that’s been put into this bill that the outcome is that it’s not going to get over.”