WA Bill to Implement Changes Regarding Joint Vesting of Marine Parks

Thursday 20 May 2021 @ 2.43 p.m. | Legal Research | Torts, Damages & Civil Liability

On 12 May 2021, Western Australian Minister for the Environment Amber-Jade Sanderson reintroduced the Conservation and Land Management Amendment Bill 2021 (WA) ("the Bill") into the Legislative Assembly. The Bill reintroduces the Conservation and Land Management Amendment Bill 2020 (WA), which lapsed on 7 December 2020 when the WA Legislative Assembly was dissolved due to re-election. 

The Bill proposes amendments the Conservation and Land Management Act 1984 (WA) ("the CALM Act") to implement various Government policy commitments. One of these commitments is the joint vesting of marine parks with traditional owners.

In her second reading speech, the Minister acknowledged that: 

"Traditional owners have long held aspirations to be joint managers of their sea and land country with a formal vesting interest." 

A joint vesting would formally recognise the interests of traditional owners. It legally recognises a responsibility shared between the State, through the Conservation and Parks Commission ("the Commission") and traditional owners over certain areas of land and water. A joint vesting supports the the practice of culture and heritage that Aboriginal people have with certain land and sea, and encourages participation in economic activities in the area.

Overview of Amendments

The Bill includes proposed amendments to the CALM Act, which seeks to provide:

  • joint vesting of marine reserves with the Commission and an Aboriginal body corporate;
  • greater recognition of the rights of Aboriginal people by broadening the purpose of marine parks to include the protection and conservation of the value of marine parks to the culture and heritage of Aboriginal people;
  • clarification of the extent to which offence and enforcement provisions of the CALM Act may be applied to unallocated Crown land and unmanaged reserves that have been placed with the CEO for management under section 8C;
  • correction of designation errors assigned to certain provisions;
  • removal of the requirement for permit and licence forms to be prescribed, consistent with regulatory reform principles; and
  • replacement of references to "chairman" of the Conservation and Parks Commission with "chairperson".

Certain terms and definitions used in the CALM Act are also proposed to be amended. Clause 4 of the Bill seeks to amend section 3 of the CALM Act by amending the defined term "joint responsible body" to include reference to "waters". This would allow a marine reserve to be jointly vested with the Commission and an Aboriginal body corporate.

Section 8C of the CALM Act deals with land that may be put under the CEO's management. Clause 7 of the Bill proposes amendments to clarify that an order under section 8C can be made to exempt the application of Part IX to certain land. Part IX of the CALM Act contains provisions regarding offences and enforcement.

Currently, section 13AA gives the Minister certain powers in regards to Class A marine reserves. Clause 8 of the Bill proposes to amend section 13AA to introduce a new subsection to provide that if a Class A marine reserve is to be subject to an amendment order under subsection 13AA(2), and it is vested jointly, then the consultation required with the Commission under subsection 13AA(2) must include consultation with the Aboriginal body corporate.

Clause 9 of the Bill proposes to amend section 13B to include the protection and conservation of the value of a marine park to the culture and heritage of Aboriginal persons as a purpose that is consistent with the reservation of a marine park. Further, references to conservation purpose in subsections 13B(3B), (5), (8) and (9) will then require this additional purpose to be considered in respect of any Ministerial declaration in regards to incompatibility of an activity with a specified conservation purpose made under the subsections.

Clause 14 of the Bill seeks to amend section 89 of the CALM Act, which deals with the form and effect of permits. The proposed amendments seek to remove the subsection 89(1) requirement for the form of permits to be prescribed in regulations. Instead clause 14 would replace it with a provision allowing for permit forms to be forms approved by the CEO. Additionally, clause 15 seeks to remove and replace similar requirements under section 90 in regards to the licenses.

The Bill is currently at second reading stage in the WA Legislative Assembly.

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Conservation and Land Management Amendment Bill 2021 (WA) and explanatory materials available from TimeBase's LawOne Service

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