The West Australian government has made the decision to revoke its controversial Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Laws and revert to the regulations established in 1972, according to reports. This move comes after months of criticism from opposition parties, farmers, and industry groups like WAFarmers and the Pastoralists and Graziers Association WA.
Premier Roger Cook and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Tony Buti will officially announce the withdrawal of the laws, which were initially introduced to modernize existing processes but faced objections due to confusion and perceived expense. These laws, which came into effect on July 1, required landowners to conduct checks for cultural heritage sites and included exemptions for lower-level works.
The opposition Liberals and Nationals, who initially supported the act, have expressed regret for their decision. They criticized the act for being intricate and costly for landowners to comply with, and raised concerns about potential abuse. WA Liberal leader Libby Mettam described the government’s reversal as a “great win for landowners” and criticized their interference with private property rights.
Tony Seabrook, president of the Pastoralists and Graziers Association WA, welcomed the news, while the property industry expressed relief but maintained their support for protecting Aboriginal cultural heritage.
By scrapping these laws, the government appears to be acknowledging their misstep in the legislative approach and responding to the dissatisfaction expressed by various stakeholders. The decision reflects a recognition of the need to address the concerns raised and find a balance between protecting Aboriginal cultural heritage and ensuring that the legislation is practical and effective.
The 1972 regulations that will be reinstated were established with the intention of conserving and preserving Aboriginal cultural heritage. These regulations have a long history of use and have proven to be more acceptable and workable for landowners and industry.
It is important to note that while the scrapping of the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Laws is seen as a positive outcome by some, the government’s commitment to protecting Aboriginal cultural heritage remains. The decision is aimed at finding a better approach that takes into account the concerns raised by stakeholders and ensures that the legislation is fair, clear, and efficient.
The repeal of these laws signifies a significant shift in the government’s stance and highlights their willingness to listen to the concerns of the community. The next steps will involve engaging with stakeholders, including Aboriginal communities, to develop new legislation that strikes the right balance between cultural heritage preservation and practicality.
Overall, this decision by the West Australian government reflects a commitment to rectifying their misstep and working towards a more effective approach in protecting Aboriginal cultural heritage. By reverting to the 1972 regulations, they aim to address the confusion and expense associated with the previous laws while still fulfilling their duty to preserve and respect Aboriginal heritage. The government’s readiness to reconsider and adapt their approach should be seen as a positive sign of their commitment to finding a balanced solution.