The New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council has welcomed veteran MP Fred Nile’s announcement he will pursue legislation to better protect Aboriginal cultural heritage.
The 87-year-old upper house MP announced on Thursday morning that he would introduce a new Aboriginal Cultural Heritage bill after revealing he had joined the Seniors United Party of Australia.
The NSWALC and the Aboriginal Land Rights Network have advocated strongly for decades for new cultural heritage laws, and noted New South Wales remained the only state which has not recently updated its heritage legislation.
NSWALC chairman Danny Chapman said the parliament should follow Mr Nile’s example in committing to strengthening heritage protection.
“Culture and heritage reform is crucial to Aboriginal people and should be valued by parliamentarians and our fellow Australians,” he said.
“The current laws do not do enough to protect our culture and heritage and does not provide any decision-making rights for Aboriginal people.
“We need to ensure our rich culture and heritage is celebrated & protected for future generations.”
The NSWALC said it looks forward to working with Mr Nile and all parties on the reforms to ensure the Bill is in line with the Aboriginal Land Rights network key principles for reform.
Mr Nile indicated that the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage (Culture is Identity) Bill 2022 aims to prevent the destruction of Aboriginal heritage by awarding custodianship of sites, objects, and remains to a newly created state agency, the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Council, the membership of which would be 100 per cent Aboriginal.
The Bill is expected to include a commitment to the Indigenous Voice Co-design process to develop proposals, in keeping with the Uluru Statement from the Heart.