CME welcomes introduction of Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill 2021

The Chamber of Minerals and Energy of WA welcomes the planned introduction of the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill 2021 into WA Parliament today.

Final stage consultation on this legislation concluded one year ago, following two prior consultation rounds which commenced back in 2018. CME commends the McGowan Government for delivering on earlier commitments to provide certainty by proceeding with introduction of a final Bill in 2021.

“Introduction and passage of this legislation will mark a major milestone in a more than three-year long process to modernise Aboriginal cultural heritage legislation in WA,” CME Chief Executive Paul Everingham said.

“It’s been well-documented that the existing Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 is outdated and no longer meets community expectations, yet previous attempts at reform have failed. Introduction of this new legislation is an opportunity for WA to deliver the most modern and robust framework for Aboriginal cultural heritage management in Australia, and be truly world-leading.

“This latest iteration of the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill is one that WA’s mining and resources sector can work with.

“That said, this new framework will require significant adjustment from all stakeholders. Change of this scale is complex, and the challenge ahead to deliver on the potential set out in the Bill should not be underestimated.

“CME and its member companies will spend some time reviewing this legislation in its entirety.”

Mr Everingham said strong relationships between mining and resources companies and Traditional Owners was fundamental to delivering benefits for all parties.

“We acknowledge that our industry hasn’t always got things right, at times with deeply regrettable consequences. Our commitment remains to invest in long-term relationships for mutual benefit through agreement-making and ongoing dialogue which responds to the priorities of local Indigenous people,” Mr Everingham said.

“Traditional Owners and Custodians make an important contribution to the economic prosperity of all Australians by enabling development on their lands, and the resources sector takes the responsibility of these partnerships extremely seriously.”

Mr Everingham said CME and its member companies were committed to working with the WA Government and all stakeholders as the new legislation moved towards being implemented.

“On behalf of the CME and its member companies, I’d like to recognise the extensive consultation and work undertaken by Aboriginal Affairs Minister Stephen Dawson, his predecessor Minister Ben Wyatt, and the teams from the Department of Premier and Cabinet and Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage, which sees the McGowan Government delivering this Bill into Parliament,” Mr Everingham said.

“We understand that striking the right balance is not easy, and passage of this legislation is just the first step. The real test is coming in implementation, including resolving important detail in supporting co-design of regulations and the enabling of new bodies created by the Bill to be properly equipped for this landmark reform to succeed.

“The ongoing inclusion of key stakeholder views through the co-design process announced by Minister Dawson will be critical to achieving this, and CME looks forward to participating fully in this process.

“The McGowan Government’s initial commitment of $10 million to kickstart this process provides an important early opportunity to lay the foundations for an efficient and functional regime, in particular through much-needed capacity-building of existing Aboriginal organisations.

“But further, and sustainable, funding commitments will be needed to ensure the success of this regime, now and into the future.”

/Public Release. View in full here.