New Aboriginal heritage legislation – update

27 April 2010

In our Member Alert on 15 March we told you about the National Parks and Wildlife Amendment Bill 2010 and how it would change the law regarding Aboriginal heritage matters.

We’re pleased to say that government has made amendments to partially address our two most serious concerns about the new legislative arrangements.

Firstly, the amendments significantly reduce the power of the government to change Aboriginal heritage impact permit conditions after a permit has been issued, although there are still loopholes they can exploit.

Secondly, the amendments ensure that a person accused of breaching key provisions of the law, will retain a defence of ‘honest and reasonable mistake of fact. This defence is of assistance to people who made inquiries and genuinely and reasonably thought there was going to be no damage, harm, etc to Aboriginal objects, but were, nonetheless mistaken.

The bill is still before Parliament. A revised version of the bill is available here.