A MOVE by shadow minister for Aboriginal Affairs Mia Davies MLA to split the Aboriginal Heritage Legislation Amendment and Repeal Bill 2023 in order for the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2021 to be immediately repealed has been rejected by the WA Labor Party.
All six of the Liberal National opposition members supported the motion, while the 42 sitting Labor members of the Legislative Assembly voted against it.
Speaking before the debate, opposition leader Shane Love said that landowners wanted certainty on their current obligations.
Mr Love said that the state government is again trying to rush the Repeal Bill through parliament while the opposition is seeking clarity surrounding the amendments the government is making.
“The government is clearly not yet on top of what’s required to make a successful transition back to the 1972 Act, and we believe they need to take the time to do that, to avoid another damaging episode like we had in July of this year” he said.
WA Liberal leader Libby Mettam MLA said the community was still confused about their current obligations surrounding what they can and can’t do on their own properties.
“It’s extraordinary that Western Australians are still waiting for clarity, a month after the WA Labor government promised to change them.
“Western Australian’s remain in limbo about their obligations while the government scrambles to fix the mess it created.
“Splitting the legislation into two parts and repealing the 2021 laws is a sensible approach, and will allow time to get the new regulations right,” she said.
The state government released the new regulations one week out from start of debate around the Repeal Bill on September 13. Debate for the Bill started on September 19.
Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Tony Buti said the Repeal Bill will support a return to an improved Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972.
“The Cook government listened to community feedback and announced our intention last month to put an alternate legislation in place.
“We are well advanced in delivering on that commitment with a Bill pending debate in Parliament, and draft regulations and key policy documents developed,” he said.
Mr Buti said the new regulations will give traditional owners and section 18 applicants certainty through timeframes, with new consultation policies setting out new expectations on how to engage with Aboriginal people about their heritage.
“We have worked to keep the restored process for managing and protecting Aboriginal cultural heritage simple – to focus on important amendments that will address key concerns without adding complexity and confusion.”