Heritage concern allayed

Glenn CordingleyBroome Advertiser
Colin Barnett has given a pre-election undertaking that Broome will not be listed as part of Aboriginal heritage assessments.
Camera IconColin Barnett has given a pre-election undertaking that Broome will not be listed as part of Aboriginal heritage assessments. Credit: The West Australian, Ian Munro The West Australian 06/03/17

Colin Barnett has given a pre-election undertaking that Broome will not be listed as part of a new indigenous heritage assessment many believe could cripple the town.

During his first campaign visit to the tourist destination last Friday, the Premier said he thought people were getting “carried away” in what he described as an administrative process. “I am not going to intervene or override processes, but as far as the Government is concerned, we are not going to see Broome listed,” he said.

“We are not going to see development in Broome stopped and we are not going to see the Yawuru (traditional owners) stopped from developing their land.

“But this will work its way through a system and I am not going to jump on a bandstand or a crate and say I am going to overrule everyone.

“That is not the way a Premier behaves.” Broome is one of 35 sites around WA being reviewed by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs previously rejected for heritage listing.

The Broome application, covering the town site to James Price Point, raised concerns when it appeared in a newspaper advertisement as code LSC11, without saying where it was.

Fears were raised it was an attempt to list the town by stealth with the potential to add layers of bureaucracy to development applications and homeowners wanting planning approval for swimming pools or patio extensions.

The Broome claim is based on a so-called Song Cycle representing sites dotted along the Dampier Peninsula deemed to have spiritual importance.

Campaigning in Broome on the same day, Opposition leader Mark McGowan reaffirmed his position on the application to be considered by the Aboriginal Cultural Material Committee in Perth after the State Election. “The process was dysfunctional without consultation,” he said.

“I think traditional owners are just as surprised by what has taken place and I don’t think many people support what’s going on here.

“I think local traditional owners don’t think this approach, or what’s happened, is sensible and I agree with them.”

He said if elected, Labor would seek to reform the assessment process and ensure there was more control and input from local communities and indigenous people.

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