The Opposition has called for in-depth consultation during the development of regulations for the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill 2021, after the legislation passed through Parliament last night.
Shadow Aboriginal Affairs Minister Vince Catania said Labor rammed the highly sensitive and important bill through Parliament, ignoring proper process, so extensive meetings must occur before rules are finalised.
“The rushed introduction of the bill meant there was no opportunity for the Opposition to consider or discuss the legislation thoroughly with stakeholders and constituents,” Mr Catania said.
“This bill replaces a 50-year-old Act, so getting the new laws right was critical to ensure Aboriginal heritage will be appropriately protected in a workable framework.
“We urge Labor to conduct comprehensive meetings with stakeholders early next year, to outline the rules and regulations these new laws will abide by.
“It has been disappointing to watch the Labor Government thumb its nose at proper Parliamentary process this year, by ramming through a range of legislation, including laws as sensitive as this.”
Mr Catania said the final version of the bill received no consultation with local government, the thousands of landholders the laws will affect and key stakeholders.
“Majority of Aboriginal organisations, Traditional Owners, and even the United Nations, are concerned about the power of approval being held by the Minister responsible, who will have the final say over whether certain developments can go ahead,” Mr Catania said.
“Labor decided to ram this bill through with no amendments, so that power of approval is now law – it is up to the Labor Government to ensure that approval process is not abused.”
Mr Catania also said the Government must ensure the upcoming consultation phase occurs appropriately, given concerns about the possible over-reliance on regulations to deliver the new laws remain.
“Labor threw out proper process, using its massive numbers in Parliament, to rush yet another bill through as a matter of urgency.
“The Labor Government must now make sure all stakeholders are approached, and their views taken into consideration, during the development of regulations.
“The Opposition will be paying close attention to the next phase, and we urge Labor to provide extensive opportunity for in-depth scrutiny.”