Labor Overturns Amendment To Prevent Destruction of Heritage

WA Greens MLC Robin Chapple criticises Labor’s decision to allow for destruction of Heritage


WA Greens Member for the Mining and Pastoral Region Robin Chapple has criticised the State Government for its rejection of his proposed amendments to protect precious Heritage across WA.


Mr Chapple introduced amendments to the EPA last Thursday (5th of November) to include protection of Indigenous Heritage sites, motivated by the approval for destruction at Rio Tinto’s controversial Silvergrass project.


Mr Chapple noted that the current Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Mr Ben Wyatt, signed off on the destruction of 40,000+yo caves at the Silvergrass site, adjacent to Rio Tinto's Nammuldi mine. [see p7454 of Hansard attached] 

“The decision from the Minister for Environment, Mr Dawson, not to support these amendments which protect Aboriginal Heritage, raises the question: what has the WA Labor Government learnt from the Juukan fiasco, if anything at all?      

Mr Chapple spoke generally of the vision between the Department of Environmental Regulation’s duties, and the Department of Aboriginal Affairs’ duties as a “no man’s land”; with both Departments and their subsidiary bodies “passing the buck”.  

“Minister for Environment Stephen Dawson has argued that, ‘no person can…limit the powers of the EPA by agreement’ despite the provisions of the notorious ‘Claim Wide Participation Agreements’; binding and gagging Traditional Owners’ objections


“This runs directly against the evidence – the gag orders we’ve seen in-place in agreements to do with the Juukan caves and elsewhere, directly do have that power.   

Mr Chapple’s amendments to protect both tangible and intangible Aboriginal cultural heritage were defeated by a bloc of Labor, Liberals, and cross benchers (excluding The Greens (WA)).

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