Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act
On July 1st, the State government Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act came into effect amongst much media hype and angst. Essentially, the government got the ‘what’ right. Preserving the cultural heritage of First Nations Peoples should be a focus. It’s the who, where, why and how that is the issue. The protection of Aboriginal Cultural Heritage is not a new concept. Laws have been in place since the 1970’s. However, after events such as the destruction of the Juukan Gorge, the state government has sought to clarify the laws but only succeeded in making them murkier.
As a property investor and developer, the new Act will affect you. Any residential property over 1100m2 is impacted by the Act; whether that’s demolishing a single house and rebuilding, subdividing a property and building a mutli-unit development or even amalgamating a property. There are some exemptions but references such as ‘like for like’ and ‘check the map’ are less than helpful. To cover themselves, the government is suggesting that, when in doubt, seek further advice. As there are currently no committee’s established to seek advice from, where does this leave Developers? The best they can do at the moment is consult a three page ‘fact sheet’.
All property investors have an obligation to do their due diligence but this Act, in it’s current form, is not only more red tape but also a huge red flag. Taking an ‘education first’ approach means that there may be some lenience for smaller investors when developing existing properties. We can only hope that the government will use this time to educate themselves as to how unworkable the Act is in a market where they are crying out for more properties to be built.