The Opposition has accused the Labor Government of again ignoring proper process as they “ram the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill 2021 through the Parliament”.

Due to its rush to be introduced, the bill has not been properly considered or discussed by the Opposition and stakeholders and constituents.

“Just one day after ramming through electoral reform, the McGowan Government is doing the same thing with this very important bill,” Opposition Leader Mia Davies said.

“The Opposition were briefed yesterday, and it is being introduced today with advice from Government it will be rushed through by the end of this week.

“I question why, with such important legislation, they are refusing to follow normal processes and give the Opposition and stakeholders the courtesy to review and prepare to contribute to the debate.”

Davies said the legislation replaces a 50-year-old Act and getting the new bill right is critical to ensure Aboriginal heritage is appropriately protected in a workable framework.

“If the Government has confidence in the legislation, that they have struck the right balance and consulted appropriately, then they should allow the bill to progress as normal and not rush it through,” she said.

“Forcing the Parliament to urgently deal with this bill raises red flags about this Labor Government’s ability to be open and honest with not only fellow MPs but all West Australians.”

Shadow Aboriginal Affairs Minister Vince Catania expressed concerns over the lack of consultation around the proposed bill.

“A piece of legislation as sensitive as this must have extensive consultation with Traditional Owners, heritage professionals and Native Title groups,” he said.

“We are also concerned about the power of approval held by the Minister responsible, who will have the final say over whether certain developments can go ahead.”

“The Opposition will be seeking more detail around that, as well as clarification on what exact types of developments will be captured under the legislation.”

Catania also said concerns are held about the possible over-reliance on regulations to deliver the new laws, that will result in a prolonged period of uncertainty for all stakeholders involved.

“Labor has again thrown out proper process, using its massive numbers in Parliament, to rush yet another bill through as a matter of urgency.”

By Rachael Knowles