Greens, One Nation scrap over Aboriginal heritage changes

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Tom ZaunmayrPilbara News
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Robin Chapple
Camera IconRobin Chapple Credit: Kalgoorlie Miner

Pauline Hanson’s One Nation has mooted support for changes to the Aboriginal Heritage Act which indigenous people argue would water down protection of cultural and sacred sites.

The amendments are intended to clear the backlog of heritage applications at the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and boost penalties for damaging sacred sites.

Movement of the amendments through Parliament has been stalled by the Nationals Party, echoing concerns of the Greens, Labor and traditional owners.

Those concerns include giving the head of the DAA too much power, and not adequately involving indigenous people in decision making. One Nation East Metro Region candidate Charles Smith said there was a need to pass the Aboriginal Heritage Amendment Bill urgently.

Opposition Aboriginal Affairs minister Ben Wyatt and Federal Labor Senator Patrick Dodson at the Pilbara's Yule River meeting discussing the Aboriginal Heritage Act.
Camera IconOpposition Aboriginal Affairs minister Ben Wyatt and Federal Labor Senator Patrick Dodson at the Pilbara's Yule River meeting discussing the Aboriginal Heritage Act. Credit: Tom Zaunmayr/Pilbara News

“If One Nation WA are in a position to do so, we will drive for certain concessions from the Government to pass legislation,” he said.

“One of those concessions will be the re-introduction of the amendments to the Aboriginal Heritage Act.

“This is a vital piece of legislation for the WA mining industry and for the regional economy.

“I am very concerned about the high costs, delays and associated frustrations caused by native title representative bodies.”

Greens MLC for Mining and Pastoral Robin Chapple said the statement showed One Nation had gone back to its roots of making indigenous people outcasts.

“This was the Bill that took away the rights of indigenous people to protect their country,” he said.

“The AHA, in the way it was going to be amended, gave authority to one person who didn’t have to have any expertise in the area.

“Litigation for the mining sector would go through the roof due to destroying sacred sites which the Department of Mines and Petroleum would tell miners weren’t on the register.

“This is a party that is prepared to trade all sorts of things, in this case the rights of Aboriginal people, for their own personal benefit.”

Mr Chapple said the management of the Act, rather than the Act itself, was what was most in need of reform.

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