Greens Critical of Government Handling of Aboriginal Heritage Act Review

Greens Member for the Mining and Pastoral Region Robin Chapple MLC has criticized the way in which the State Government is handling a review of the Aboriginal Heritage Act.

“Dr John Avery’s review of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972, which was released for public comment last week, is critically short of detail, making it almost impossible to comment on many aspects of the report,” Mr Chapple said.

“For example, it is: ‘proposed to prescribe additional criteria that the ACMC may consider when assessing whether Aboriginal places should be preserved for their importance and significance to the cultural heritage of the State’ but no information about the nature of the criteria is provided.

“Further: At present,the Act places the onus on persons accused of breaching the Act to prove  that places and objects relating to the proceedings are not Aboriginal sites or objects to which the Act applies, whether they are registered or not. To enhance the authority of the Register, it is proposed to modify this provision so that it only applies to places and objects on the Register.

This removes any protection of sites not on the register, encouraging people not to survey or report sites and does not address issues of old/new registers or the time it may take to get sites listed on a register.

“Perhaps most disturbing of all is the five-week timeframe allowed for comment: this is ludicrous when applied to Aboriginal people living in remote communities and shows a complete lack of understanding about how these groups function. Indeed there appears to be no mechanism to engage with remote communities.

“Far from improving Aboriginal heritage sites protection, the proposed amendments actually erode current provisions, and they take no account of the vast extent of the State that has yet to be surveyed,” Mr Chapple said.

For more information please contact Robin Chapple on 0409 379 263 or 9486 8255

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