FARA supports calls by WA Traditional Owners to halt presentation of the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill 2020

In the last month, the Aboriginal Heritage Action Alliance (AHAA) and the WA Alliance of Native Title Representative Bodies and Service Providers have both called for a halt to the promulgation of the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill first introduced in September 2020.

Friends of Australian Rock Art Inc. (FARA) applauds the interventions of both of these groups and agrees with their view that the current Bill is not fit for purpose.

FARA respects and recognises the cultural authority and diversity of both Alliances, which represent Aboriginal peoples and representative organisations from across WA. FARA also endorses their rejection of the Bill, which is motivated by a desire to maintain proper heritage protection standards and respect Indigenous authority over heritage. We call on the WA Government to work with all WA Traditional Owners to co-design legislation that genuinely protects and promotes Aboriginal heritage.

We have seen with our own eyes how the current 1972 Aboriginal Heritage Act has repeatedly failed to prevent the industrialised destruction of the globally significant rock art of Murujuga (the Burrup Peninsula). Despite these shortcomings, we have no confidence that the McGowan Government’s Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill will do anything to prevent the ongoing destruction of Murujuga, which is being actively facilitated by the McGowan Government through its promotion of projects like the Woodside/BHP Scarborough LNG project, the Perdaman Urea plant, and the expansion of Yara’s existing fertiliser plant on the Burrup.
FARA also endorses the public statement by peak national archaeological bodies The Australian Association of Consulting Archaeologists Inc. (AACAI) and the Australian Archaeological Association (AAA).