The Heritage Bill 2017 (No 47 - WA) (the Bill) was introduced into the Western Australian Assembly on Wednesday 8 November 2017 and has reached the second reading debate stage.
This Bill proposes the repeal of the current legislation the Heritage of Western Australia Act 1990 (the current Act) replacing it, according to the Explanatory Memorandum, with a modern, clearly written Heritage Act 2017 (the new Act). The new Act is said to address contemporary needs and reflect the ". . . best practice in the recognition and management of the state’s cultural heritage."
Western Australia was the last of the Australian states to enact specific legislation which recognised and protected non-Aboriginal cultural heritage places.
According to the Explanatory Memorandum, the current Act was written at a time when ". . . legislators responded to the community’s demands for the protection of its heritage places amid the demolition of a significant proportion of Perth’s built heritage in the name of progress."
The current Act came into operation 26 years ago, and almost from the start was found to have many flaws and shortcomings creating obstacles to its effectiveness, through:
The Explanatory Memorandum points out that because the current Act originated in the 1970s and 1980s, it is known for phrasing that is hard to interpret and reflects the statute drafting style of those days, being rigid, and having an adversarial approach to heritage management. This is a position which has changed with a very clear shift in attitudes and a broader community now more engaged and informed about the importance of recognising and preserving its “. . . sense of place” through familiar landmarks, urban spaces and regional areas.
The Explanatory Memorandum indicates that Bill recognises that:
The Bill's objectives are stated as being, while having due regard for the "rights of property ownership", to:
According to the Explanatory Memorandum the Bill ". . . reflects contemporary attitudes to heritage and modern heritage management practice" and anticipates ongoing change and encourages the use of heritage places as integral to vibrant communities.
The Bill is also said to bring a new level of efficiency and transparency that has consultation and negotiation at its heart, rather than imposition and heavy-handed regulation, to achieve the goal of identifying, recognising and protecting Western Australia’s most precious heritage places for current and future generations.
As already indicated the Bill has reached 2nd reading stage and will continue to be debated in the coming parliamentary sitting days.
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Heritage Bill 2017 WA and explanatory memorandum as reported in the TimeBase LawOne Service
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