Jobs Events Advertise

Victorian shadow minister for Aboriginal Affairs comfortable with Treaty stalling on cultural heritage concerns

Jarred Cross -

The Victorian shadow minister for Aboriginal Affairs says he is personally comfortable if Treaty was to fall over in the state as a result of the coalition's backflip on support announced at the weekend.

Peter Walsh announced the stance in a Sky News interview on Sunday, citing concerns over cultural heritage framework.

"We have had internal discussions and we don't believe we should proceed with Treaty until issues around cultural heritage, until issues around the Traditional Owner settlement act are actually resolved," the Victorian Nationals leader said.

The path toward Treaty had previously progressed with bipartisan support in Victoria.

Speaking on ABC Radio Melbourne on Monday, Mr Walsh said the shadow cabinet shifted their position in "springtime" last year.

"It is a coalition policy. It was discussed late last year," he said.

"The whole issue around cultural heritage studies has got a lot of media attraction in the last few weeks, issues that have been raised with all our MPs but a lot of those people have spoken to me as a shadow minister.

"People are hesitant to speak out publicly because they know if they do that effectively limits the chance to get either a cultural heritage study done or to get a successful outcome out of one."

Mr Walsh said Traditional Owners Groups effectively have a monopoly under government legislation, without the same accountability other types of organisations are held to, and while the opposition are pro cultural heritage they "don't believe the legislation is delivering for all Victorians".

He also reiterated pushes for parliamentary review.

When pressed on whether he was personally comfortable if the shadow cabinet's decision resulted in no Treaty, Mr Walsh responded "yes".

The shadow minister for Aboriginal Affairs said the coalition is still committed to Closing the Gap, but stated Treaty remains "a great unknown".

First Peoples' Assembly of Victoria co-chair Reuban Berg said the opposition's decision was "disappointing", but didn't close the door on Treaty in the state. (Image: Dechlan Brennan)

"Lots of people would say, how can you have a treaty with yourself? Because we are all Australians."

On suggestion those comments could be taken as derogatory, Mr Walsh said "I'm not..I'm just saying we don't believe it's working, and we've called it out".

The concerns over cultural heritage framework are ones he said have previously been brought to the attention of Victoria's First Peoples' Assembly.

Assembly co-chair Reuban Berg told ABC in his own ABC radio interview he was not directly made aware of the shadow cabinet's backtrack before the announcement on Sunday night.

In a statement on Sunday, the Assembly the Liberal and Nationals parties decision was "disappointing, but not surprising".

On Monday Mr Berg said the path forward in Victoria is "definitely not" over.

"I think anyone who's had involvement in the cultural heritage space here in Victoria will know that it's not a perfect system…There are things that probably do need to be tweaked and adjusted not just some of the concerns raised by the Nationals, but there's many concerns from a traditional standpoint as well around that cultural heritage legislation," he said.

Mr Berg is convinced Treaty could provide opportunities to strengthen cultural heritage for the positive.

He said Traditional Owner groups have been empowered by a strong model in the state, but not properly resourced for their "important role", and it's very rare First Peoples are given the scope to properly protect culturally significant sites.

"Too often, what cultural heritage management is about here in Victoria is minimising harm," Mr Berg said.

He added there is a need for balance between heritage protection and necessary growth.

The Victorian Government has slammed the opposition's decision, saying it "leaves Aboriginal communities to pick up the pieces".


Spotlight on hospital care at Indigenous death inquest
Ricky Hampson Jr was a protector, a big brother known as "Dougie" who always looked for ways to bring his family joy. "Dougie w...
Stephanie Gardiner 25 Feb 2024
'Concerning' NT land council referred to integrity body
The federal government is set to investigate allegations of misconduct at the Anindilyakwa Land Council after a damning audit....
Neve Brissenden 24 Feb 2024
Victorian First Peoples Art and Design Fair looks to bring 'whole gamut' on debut in 2025
Inaugural Victorian First Peoples Arts and Design Fair senior project manager Janina Harding has “big plans” for seeing creative...
Jarred Cross 24 Feb 2024
Rolfe recorded 46 use-of-force incidents during stint
A Northern Territory police officer who shot dead an Indigenous teenager recorded 46 use-of-force incidents between 2016 and 201...
Neve Brissenden 23 Feb 2024

   Jarred Cross   

Bevan French stars in World Club Challenge
Bevan French has steered Wigan Warriors to their fifth World Club Challenge win with a man-of-the-match performance over Penrith...
Jarred Cross 25 Feb 2024
National Indigenous Cricket Championships start with bumper day 1
The National Indigenous Cricket Championships in Mparntwe/Alice Springs produced nail biters and strong batting displays on its...
Jarred Cross 23 Feb 2024
Directions hearings continue ahead of inquest into 2021 death in custody of young mum
The latest directions hearings concerning a 30-year-old Yamatji, Noongar, Wongi and Pitjantjatjara woman who died in custody at...
Jarred Cross 23 Feb 2024
Victorian First Peoples Art and Design Fair looks to bring 'whole gamut' on debut in 2025
Inaugural Victorian First Peoples Arts and Design Fair senior project manager Janina Harding has “big plans” for seeing creative...
Jarred Cross 24 Feb 2024