A controversial bill overhauling Western Australia’s Aboriginal heritage legislation is set to pass in the state’s parliament tomorrow.
The Aboriginal Heritage Bill comes almost two years after the destruction of Juukan Gorge in the Pilbara last year; an act which caused outrage within Australia and internationally.
The new bill has been touted as an overhaul of the decades old legislation governing Aboriginal heritage in WA, but many traditional owner groups are not happy with the bill or the consultation process which led to it.
Following a complaint, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has written to the Australian government raising concerns about the laws.
The international body has asked the Federal government to consider engaging with it to facilitate dialogue and delay the bill until a compromise can be reached.
Kado Muir, chairperson for the First Nations Heritage Protection Alliance, said the legislation does not take into account recommendations from the report into the destruction of Juukan Gorge, A Way Forward.
“The position advanced by us to the United Nations really reflects the arguments that came out of The Way Forward. It is actually reflecting federal government position on cultural heritage management in Australia so I would expect that the state of Western Australia is out of touch with the reality of international standards, the national standard and we would expect that at some point there will be a cultural heritage legislation that covers all of Australia that seeks to advance a standard for cultural heritage protection that includes active involvement Aboriginal people in that process.”