Robust legislation needed to protect cultural heritage


The Greens say robust legislation is needed to protect First Nations cultural heritage and urged the WA Government to carefully consult and consider future legislation.

Comments attributable to WA Greens MLC, Dr Brad Pettitt:

"These are the consequences of ramming a bill through Parliament while refusing to accept any amendments, utilise the Legislation Committee or heed the warnings of the many dozens of Traditional Owners that made their voices heard.

“The Liberals and Nationals have made this a political football, but the reality is they voted for the Bill and the Greens were the only real opposition.

“Reforming regulations or amending the original 1972 Act is not acceptable. The Section 18 system is a deeply flawed one that enabled the destruction of the Juukan Gorge.

“The intent of reforming the 1972 Act was to provide protection for First Nations cultural heritage so atrocities the Juukan Gorge destruction never happens again. Labor bungled that process and ignored Traditional Owners which is why we’re in this mess, but reforms that result in genuine protections for cultural heritage still must occur.

“Like the Greens have been saying for years now, if the State Government had genuinely consulted with the First Nations Traditional Owners and knowledge holders from the start and listened to the overwhelming community opposition, we would not be in this mess. Instead, the Government has wasted all this time and taxpayer money only to start all over again. 

“This is what happens when ram bills through Parliament, don’t accept amendments, and don’t utilise the Legislation Committee.

"The 2021 Act should have never been passed without substantial changes in the first place. That's why the Greens voted against it, while it was supported without amendment by both Labor and the Liberal-National coalition.”

Comments attributable to Greens spokesperson for First Nations, Resources, Trade, Tourism and Sport, and Yamatji Noongar woman, Senator Dorinda Cox:

“The work I did on the Joint Standing Committee on Northern Australia’s recommendations of both 'A Way Forward' and ‘Never Again’ reports were clear about the need for standalone Aboriginal cultural heritage legislation, which the Albanese Government committed to via Minister Tanya Plibersek in November 2022 to prevent incidents like Juukan Gorge being legal. 

“Robust legislation with appropriate implementation will enable us to continue to share land and water with the oldest continuing culture, with 60,000 years of culturally significant sites, and our songlines, totems and Country must be protected."