Opposition repeats calls for Tony Buti to resign following WA Labor’s backflip on cultural heritage legislation

Aug 8, 2023 | Libby Mettam MLA, State News

The Nationals WA and WA Liberals have issued a warning that the WA Labor Government cannot be trusted, following the extraordinary repeal of their controversial heritage laws.

Opposition Leader and Nationals WA Leader Shane Love said Premier Cook’s admission the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2021 went too far was proof he needed to remove Aboriginal Affairs Minister Tony Buti from his Cabinet.

“WA Labor have finally admitted their legislative response to protect cultural heritage in our state was wrong,” Mr Love said.

“WA Labor have ignored landholders, local governments, farmers and small businesses.”

The WA Labor Government has confirmed they will revert back to the 1972 legislation with amendments, which gives the Aboriginal Affairs Minister ultimate power to approve projects under an updated section 18.

Mr Love said it was time for Aboriginal Affairs Minister Tony Buti to resign, and if he is too proud to do so, Premier Cook needs to remove him.

“The incompetence of Minister Buti is astonishing,” Mr Love said.

“He is not trusted by the people of Western Australia and cannot be trusted to administer any heritage legislation.

“If Tony Buti will not resign, Premier Cook needs to take off his blinders and find a new Minister – a failure to do this wreaks of arrogance.”

WA Liberal Leader Libby Mettam said while the spectacular backflip was welcomed, this was a mess that could have been avoided.

“The Cook Labor Government has been dragged kicking and screaming to this point, forging ahead with the implementation of this clearly flawed legislation while telling us the process was going smoothly and the Opposition should butt out,” Ms Mettam said.

“Premier Cook arrogantly ignored the concerns of 30,000 Western Australians who signed a petition calling for a six-month pause on the implementation of these laws to allow the Government to get this right.

“This is also a government that resorted to racial slurs – accusing the Opposition of dog-whistling, referring to us as dogs returning to their vomit and racist when we raised legitimate concerns about the shocking overreach of these laws.

“It has been an absolute debacle from day one and could have been avoided if the Cook Labor Government had actually listened to the concerns in the first place.

“To hear them now admit the laws were too confusing and too prescriptive is cold comfort for the many industry groups and individuals that have been raising these concerns from day one.

“The financial and emotional burden, stress and anxiety that has been caused by these overly complicated laws cannot be understated.

“We look forward to a briefing with government to understand the details of how and when they will make these changes to begin the process of fixing the Cook Labor Government’s mess.”