The WA State Government is seeking comment on a draft Aboriginal
Heritage Amendment Bill 2014.
According to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, the draft Bill
is the first meaningful change to the way WA manages the protection
of Aboriginal heritage through the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 in
The proposed amendments include the following key changes.
A more streamlined process of assessment of
places and objects is proposed by enabling the CEO of the
Department of Aboriginal Affairs (DAA) to carry
out assessments relating to Aboriginal Sites for the purposes of
section 5 and 6 of the Act, protected areas under section 19 of the
Act, and Aboriginal cultural material under section 40 of the
The section 18 approvals process will be
amended to allow any person to make an application, rather than
just the owner of the land. The CEO will also be able to fast-track
declaring that there does not appear to be an Aboriginal site
on the land, which will act as a defence to a charge under section
17 of the Act; and
granting an expedited permit with or without conditions where
the site will not be adversely affected by the activity.
A register of declarations and permits will be
established to record all current and historical approvals.
Measures to strengthen compliance and
enforcement will be introduced, including substantially
higher penalties, extension of time to prosecute offences, power to
issue infringement notices and power for the courts to issue
New regulations are proposed to:
assist the CEO to identify Aboriginal places and objects by the
creation of additional criteria for the evaluation of the
importance and significance of Aboriginal places and objects;
enable the DAA to recover costs for services, such as
processing approval applications; and
improve the quality of information on the Register of
Aboriginal Sites and Objects (currently Register of Places and
Objects) and the Register of Declarations and Permits.
Stakeholder consultation and public comment on the draft Bill
close on 6 August 2014.
As Aboriginal Heritage laws affect so many major projects across
the State, especially resources projects, this is an important
opportunity to shape the future direction of this area.
Clayton Utz communications are intended to provide
commentary and general information. They should not be relied upon
as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular
transactions or on matters of interest arising from this bulletin.
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