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Issue #1620      November 27, 2013

Last-ditch Tas plea to “kill” Heritage Bill

Tasmania’s Aboriginal people and supporters are making an 11th hour call for the long-awaited Aboriginal Heritage Protection Bill to be ditched after it was passed by the State Lower house.

The proposed legislation has been criticised for lack of ownership provisions, with the exception of Aboriginal human remains, and containing weaker powers for the Aboriginal advisory body than that of its counterpart statuary body created under the Historic Cultural Heritage Act, which protects post-invasion heritage.

Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (TAC) state secretary Ruth Langford said the bill should have been called “access to developers to destroy bill and remove Aboriginals’ right to have a say about our heritage and culture bill”.

“Ownership is completely silent in the bill, which implies we have no ownership of our heritage and culture,” she said. “The wording is weak in respect to the advisory council in comparison to the historic act.”

The state government had previously said the new legislation would empower Aboriginal people by “recognising Tasmanian Aboriginal ownership of objects of cultural importance” when work began in 2006 to replace the Aboriginal Relics Act 1975, which is broadly considered ineffective and outdated.

Ms Langford said the bill would further remove Aboriginal community from their cultural birth responsibility and rights to care for and protect their own heritage and culture.

A social media campaign has been launched by the TAC, with a YouTube clip titled It’s Important to Me.

Ms Langford said it was a response to help stop the Tasmanian government “bulldozing through legislation that undermines the Aboriginal community’s ownership and cultural right to protect their heritage”.

“We need to kill the bill,” she said.

Ms Langford accused the state government of using tactics to directly force division among Aboriginal people.

“How long must we endure the colonising divide-and-conquer mindset.” she asked.

Koori Mail

Next article – The October Revolution was the culmination of a process

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