Aboriginal heritage red tape excessive: Greens

Greens spokesman for Aboriginal issues and mining Robin Chapple said existing requirements for heritage surveys were excessive.

This story was originally published in The West Australian on 2 March, 2017 with the headline "Heritage rules too much, say Greens." © Peter Milne.

Aboriginal heritage management and the effect it has on resources projects is in for a big shake-up after the State election, regardless of the winning party.

Greens spokesman for Aboriginal issues and mining Robin Chapple condemned the existing arrangements yesterday, telling a mining conference that requirements for heritage surveys were excessive.

Mr Chapple described the Department of Aboriginal Affairs as the worst department in the State.

“You don’t need to do half the things the DAA are telling you to do,” he said at the AMEC Mining and the Environment Conference.

“The key issue is to get a functioning organisation that actually assists people in the process.”

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Peter Collier defended his department.

“The Department of Aboriginal Affairs has gone through major changes, including a 30 per cent reduction in staff and a review of the Heritage Directorate,” Mr Collier said.

The DAA administers heritage approvals under the 45-year-old Aboriginal Heritage Act, which all major parties want to overhaul.

The Government introduced amendments in late 2014 but the legislation had stalled in Parliament.

“It is still firmly my intention to pursue those should we win,” Mr Collier said.

Shadow Aboriginal affairs minister Ben Wyatt said the Act failed in Parliament as the Government erred in not involving Aboriginal people in the new regime.

Mr Wyatt said there had to be a system that respected that Aboriginal people owned the heritage and wanted a role in its protection. They firmly understood heritage protection had to exist with industry and job creation, he said.

He would like to see heritage arrangements devolved to Aboriginal groups as close to country as possible.