On 2 November 2012 Tasmanian Environment, Parks and Heritage Minister Brian Wightman released the exposure draft of the Aboriginal Heritage Protection Bill 2012 for public comment saying “the new legislation helps us better protect and manage aboriginal heritage as well as providing clarity for landowners and developers.” The Bill primarily addresses the need to modernise the out-dated current legislation dealing with Aboriginal heritage in Tasmania, the Aboriginal Relics Act 1975 (the Act). The draft exposure Bill, once finalised, will replace the Act. The public consultation period is open until Friday 14 December 2012.
Pursuant to the Explanatory Guide, the draft Bill aims to establish a fair, balanced and modern legislative framework for the protection of Tasmania’s Aboriginal heritage and aims to:
- provide more effective protection and management of Aboriginal heritage,
- increase the involvement of the Aboriginal community in decision-making processes,
- integrate the protection and management of Aboriginal heritage with planning and land development processes, providing greater certainty for those who own, manage and use land in Tasmania,
- have clear processes for the timely and efficient assessment of activities that may harm Aboriginal heritage,
- include mechanisms for dealing with Aboriginal heritage objects,
- include voluntary agreements and management plans,
- include transparent processes, enforcement provisions and appeal rights.