The Western Australian Government has overturned the controversial Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act, apologising for the unintentional “stress, confusion and division” it caused.
Premier Roger Cook said the original act from 1972 would be restored, with some simple and effective amendments.
The announcement comes after the Real Estate Institute of Western Australia (REIWA) implored the government to amend the act so it was not so onerous on property owners.
Under the regime announced today, Mr Cook said property owners would not have to survey their own land to ensure it complied with act.
“Simply put, the laws went too far, were too prescriptive, too complicated and placed unnecessary burdens on everyday Western Australian property owners,” Mr Cook told The Australian.
“I understand that the legislation has unintentionally caused stress, confusion and division in the community. And for that, I am sorry.
“Our response to Juukan Gorge was wrong. We got the balance wrong and what we did hasn’t worked.
“Based on community feedback and following serious consideration, I and the Government have made a decision to overturn the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2021. We will restore the original act from 1972 with some simple and effective amendments.
“All WA property owners can continue to operate and manage the property just like they have for the past 50 years, without any fear of unknowingly disrupting cultural heritage sites.”
Mr Cook said the changes would end the burden placed on landowners.
“The key point I want to make is that there will be no requirement on everyday property owners to conduct their own heritage survey,” he said.
Instead, over the next decade the State Government will complete heritage surveys in high priority sections of the state, with landholders’ permission.
Mr Cook said the announcement today was about listening to the people of
“The Juukan Gorge tragedy was a global embarrassment for Australia, something needed to be done,” he said.
“No-one can argue with that. But our legislative response was wrong. I want to thank everyone across the community for their feedback.”
More to come….