Less red tape on heritage claims call
The Shire of Broome wants legislation governing indigenous heritage claims to become more streamlined with less red tape, as the system is riddled with “inconsistencies”.
The State Government announced a review of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 last year after a failed bid by the Goolarabooloo to list most of Broome’s town centre as it was considered sacred territory.
Residents and council officials were worried it had potential to add layers of bureaucracy to simple planning applications and stifle development.
The application was dismissed by the Aboriginal Cultural Material Committee several months later.
The Shire is now calling for a faster and clearer system, including the Section 18 process requiring ministerial approval to develop on listed land.
The Shire believes permission to carry out work could come directly from the Aboriginal parties concerned, potentially reducing the number of Section 18 applications and expediting projects.
“Ultimately, the ACMC would only need to assess applications where consent cannot be obtained,” Shire of Broome development and community director Aletta Nugent stated.
The Shire’s submission pitches native title against heritage, along with the complexities faced by a proponent and which parties are consulted and authorised to speak for country.
The importance of the Aboriginal Heritage Register being accurate and up to date was also flagged because of “uncertainty” over mythological sites recorded on the AHR and the potential impact of development. “It is recommended that mythological sites recorded on the register should clearly define what type of activities would adversely affect the site,” Ms Nugent wrote.
“This may assist in providing clarity and transparency to proponents when progressing proposed projects.”
The Shire suggested when assessing an application for inclusion on the register, all affected parties, including landowners and those with interest in the land, should be provided with access to all materials for consideration as part of the consultation process.
“Additionally, the time to provide a submission on an application should be extended to at least six weeks,” Ms Nugent said.
She said nominated sites should include a level of significance and implications if accepted for registration.
The report suggested there was inconsistency between native title holders or registered parties and “knowledge holders”, making it “complex and confusing to understand who could speak for country”.
“The Shire suggests the register include details of the knowledge holders and the knowledge holder should be a group rather than an individual,” Ms Nugent stated.
“This would provide the proponent a point of contact in the event an individual was deceased.”
The Shire supported additional government resources to assess a backlog of site applications and to provide an Aboriginal Cultural Material Committee for each region to streamline processes and cut red tape.
Goolarabooloo representatives Ron and Daniel Roe.