Ethical Partners calls for delay to the WA Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill

December 17, 2021
ESG Insights

Ethical Partners is proud to be one of 14 international institutional investors standing with Western Australian Indigenous groups to call upon the Western Australian state government to delay the passing of the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill 2021 currently before Parliament, and to partner with Indigenous Peoples to co-design a new version of the heritage protection laws.

As detailed in linked investor statement, released earlier this month, as investors, our view is that the Bill is not sufficiently robust to ensure adequate protection for sites of significant Aboriginal heritage, or prevent another occurrence like the Juukan Gorge tragedy.

We, along with the other named investors, are concerned and disappointed that local Indigenous groups were not suitably involved in the writing of the Bill currently before Parliament, and believe strongly that their perspectives and knowledge must be actively included in the formation of a new edition of the Bill. This was in fact one of the key recommendations contained in the Juukan Gorge Inquiries Interim Report, that states "Any new legislation must as a minimum ensure Aboriginal people have meaningful involvement in and control over heritage decision making, in line with the internationally recognised principles of free, prior and informed consent".

Most importantly, Ethical Partners Funds Management are concerned that this legislation does not provide a right of appeal, let alone the right to veto contained under the concept of Free Prior and Informed Consent within the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Persons. Our indigenous peoples' inalienable rights to self-determination, to access their land, and to determine how to manage it must be respected and acknowledged within our laws. Ethical Partners firmly believe this must be better addressed by our Australian government, corporates and legislation, beginning with this bill.

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