Concern over Heritage Act
Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation chairwoman Doris Eaton has decried the lack of progress made on amendments to the Aboriginal Heritage Act one year on from the first Yule River meeting.
But Regional Development Minister Terry Redman denied last year’s meeting had not had an impact.
“(Pilbara MLA) Brendan (Grylls) came into our party room last year and said: ‘I went to this meeting here supporting the Bill, I came out of the meeting not supporting it and some changes need to be made,’” he said.
“The Nationals have put those amendments into the mix and have been negotiating with (Aboriginal Affairs Minister) Peter Collier about where that Bill is at.
“I suspect that is one of the reasons why it has stalled in the (lower) house, not to mention some of the legal challenges that have recently happened.”
Mr Redman said there were aspects of the Bill he was eager to progress that would benefit Aboriginal people.
Shadow Aboriginal affairs minister Ben Wyatt said Aboriginal people had been angered that extensive consultation regarding the Bill had seemingly been ignored by the Government.
“The Barnett Government’s proposed amendments to the AHA involve removing any Aboriginal person from a statutory right to be involved,” he said.
“If that comes on in its current form … I intend to move a range of amendments which embed the right of Aboriginal people to be spoken to about issues around their heritage, give them the same access to the State Administrative Tribunal that mining groups and other third parties (have), and simply make what is a very bad piece of legislation fairer.
“Ultimately, I don’t think the legislation can be saved, but I think it can be made fairer and better for the Aboriginal people.”
YMAC chief executive Simon Hawkins said Aboriginal people were not another stakeholder to consult, they were the custodians.
WA shadow Aboriginal affairs minister Ben Wyatt.