Opposition calls on the Labor Government to split Cultural Heritage Bill following Premier’s broken promise

The Opposition has today called on the WA Labor Government to split the Aboriginal Heritage Legislation Amendment and Repeal Bill 2023 to allow the immediate repeal of the failed 2021 legislation.

The call comes as the Opposition has yet to see a single regulation less than one week out from debate, despite a promise from Premier Roger Cook that his Government would be providing ample time for the Opposition to consider the regulations at the same time as the legislation.

Shadow Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Mia Davies asked the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs during Parliamentary Question Time whether the Government would split the Bill to repeal the failed Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2021 and allow for another Bill with amendments to be debated later in the year.

Ms Davies said this process would help progress the development of the amendments to the regulations for the 1972 Act and ensure there were no unintended consequences due to regulations being drafted under pressure.

“We are one week from debating the legislation and have still not seen the promised regulations,” Ms Davies said.

“The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs avoided providing a timeline in Parliament today, so we are now calling for a different approach.

“Progress with the repeal and get rid of the failed 2021 legislation and then take the time to work on regulations properly, and give the Opposition appropriate time to consult and review what’s proposed.”

Opposition Leader Shane Love said the people of Western Australia deserve a clear path forward to ensure their property rights will not be infringed by WA Labor Government’s new laws.

“Labor’s old tricks, which included dropping the 2021 legislation at the eleventh hour to the Opposition, is of genuine concern to the community as the WA Labor Government risks botching another set of heritage laws.”

“WA Labor has to show they have learned their lesson after the debacle of the 2021 legislation and need to heed the Premier’s instruction to be a humble Government.

WA Liberal Leader Libby Mettam said there was genuine confusion in the community and Western Australian landholders were still very concerned about what they could and couldn’t do on their land.

“It is extraordinary that Western Australians are still waiting for clarity, a month after the WA Labor Government promised to change them.

“Western Australians remain in limbo about their obligations while the government scrambles to fix the mess it created.

“Splitting the legislation into two parts and repealing the 2021 laws is a sensible approach, and will allow the Government time to get the new regulations right.”