Wyatt moves to change heritage laws

Western Australia’s 45-year-old Aboriginal Heritage Act — the legislation underpinning the preservation and protection of Aboriginal heritage in the state — is set to be reviewed.

WA Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt said the review would involve a three-stage public consultation process that would lead to new legislation being introduced into the WA Parliament.

“The current legislation does not meet the contemporary needs of Aboriginal people, government or industry, and does little to protect our unique heritage,” Mr Wyatt said.

“Change is required to ensure that our Aboriginal heritage — a state asset of significant importance — can continue to be preserved for current and future generations.

“I strongly encourage Aboriginal people and all other stakeholders with an interest in Aboriginal heritage to participate in the review by providing feedback throughout the consultation process.”

Last month the Native Title body for the Eastern Guruma people in WA’s Pilbara said an ancient valley was at risk of being destroyed by a new rail line planned by billionaire Andrew Forrest’s Fortescue Metals Group.

The Wintawari Guruma Aboriginal Corporation claimed the heritage process meant to consider the case of Spear Hill Valley had been bungled — a claim rejected by the WA Government.

The Federal Government is investigating the matter.

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