Opposition backs repeal of Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act, as questions remain 

Oct 18, 2023 | Neil Thomson MLC, State News

Opposition Leader Shane Love has expressed his support for the passing of the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage (ACH) Act Amendment and Repeal Bill 2023 and has strongly advocated for its prompt proclamation to bring an end to the protracted and problematic ACH saga. 

Mr Love highlighted that the increased awareness of Aboriginal cultural heritage and waterway rights has raised concerns among landowners about how the amendments will affect them. 

“After a period of confusion followed by extended inaction by the Cook Labor Government, the time has come for Minister Tony Buti to rectify this situation,” Mr Love said. 

“Questions now arise from concerned landowners as to how their waterway rights will be protected under the legislation and that the Cook Labor Government has to provide clarity around this. 

“The future use of the waterways that exist on the properties of landowners need to be protected and any unanswered questions, need to be addressed by the Premier and his Aboriginal Affairs Minister Tony Buti.” 

Shadow Planning Minister Neil Thomson welcomed the passage of the repeal to the botched and overly prescriptive Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2021 through the Western Australian Parliament last night. 

Mr Thomson, who led the debate in the Legislative Council, said this great outcome was a victory for people-power and common sense. 

He thanked West Australians who expressed their outrage and concern and signed the petition which garnered almost 30,000 signatures in two weeks. 

“The Labor Party refused to listen until it was forced to change by overwhelming opposition in the community and this serves to highlight the importance of people being engaged for the sake of our future,” he said. 

“It is vital that laws are workable, moderate, and effective and the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2021 which was introduced by the Cook Labor Government on 1 July 2023 met none of those criteria.” 

Some minor changes have been made to the 1972 Act which will now be reinstated as soon as the Premier and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs initiate the process of making the parliamentary decision into law. 

“There is now no excuse for delays, and the proclamation should happen at the earliest opportunity,” Mr Thomson said.