24 October 2023

Labor’s planned Indigenous cultural heritage laws are in tatters following explosive revelations at Senate Estimates that the reforms have been delayed indefinitely.

In the evening session of the Senate Environment and Communications Estimates hearing on Monday, representatives from the Department of Climate Change, Energy, Environment and Water admitted that it was “unclear” whether the cultural heritage law reforms would be finished before the end of the current term of parliament.

This is despite Labor’s 2022 election commitment to introduce standalone cultural heritage reforms and follows the Western Australian Labor Government’s disastrous handling of similar laws that were ultimately scrapped following community and industry backlash.

Shadow Environment Minister Jonno Duniam:

“The Government’s environment and cultural heritage reform program is a joke.”

“We know that the Labor Government’s EPBC Act reforms are well behind schedule. Now we hear that their revamped cultural heritage laws may not even be introduced this term.”

“It’s another significant setback at the hands of Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek following her year-long delay to the promised EPBC Act reforms that are meant to be introduced by the end of this year.”

“Labor have bungled these reforms that they put to the Australian people at the last election. This is no coincidence following the backlash to the laws introduced by their West Australia Labor Government that drew wide condemnation.”

“How can they commit to reforms with an unlimited timeframe when they might not even be in government next term? It’s an empty promise and shows a lack of urgency, secrecy and delay that are typical of the Albanese Government.”