By Melanie Debenham, Senior Associate, and Emily Wilson, Solicitor, Perth.
In March 2019, the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs released a discussion paper outlining proposals for reforming the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 (WA) (Discussion Paper). Any person with land or project development interests in WA should closely follow the course of these reforms.
The Discussion Paper is the second phase of the consultation process and distils outcomes from phase one into reform proposals. It proposes repealing the existing Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 (WA) (Current Act) and replacing it with a new Act embodying modern approaches to heritage management and providing a more comprehensive regulatory and administrative framework (New Act). Given the tenor of the reform, the Discussion Paper contains a range of new regulatory approaches, as well as refinements to approaches under the current regime.
The Discussion Paper presents the proposals at a high level, therefore, likely implications for land users will be better understood once an exposure draft bill is released. Based on our current knowledge of the proposed New Act’s content, we have prepared a summary of the key proposals, together with our initial thoughts on potential implications, which is available here.