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Gold Prospecting e-News, Issue #82 - How Will The Proposed Aboriginal Act Affect YOU
September 09, 2020

How Will The Proposed Aboriginal Act Affect YOU in WA

Will the new Aboriginal Heritage Act Impact on Your Prospecting Rights?

Who Has been Involved in Developing the Act?

What is the Aboriginal Heritage Act About?.

What is "Land" Defined as Under the Act?

What are the Activities Defined Under the Act?

The Bill - Some Sections to Read.

Links to Various Documents..

Corona Virus WA Travel Update Pages.

Will the new Aboriginal Heritage Act Impact on Your Prospecting Rights?

Gidday Everyone.

You know it's curious that I talked about Australian's Gold Prospecting Heritage in the last newsletter and yesterday we received an email about the new Aboriginal Heritage Act proposed for WA.

This is another piece of WA Government Legislation that adds more burdensome and unnecessary controls and costs to undertake our prospecting heritage. It also erodes the right of the majority of Australians to enjoy the bush.

You Can Comment on the Legislation BEFORE it is Passed

Some Key Points?

  • Micromanaging access to ALL land in WA is Overkill.
  • This will have a massive impact on the small prospector, Metal detectorist and small Miner BUT it will also affect farmers, landowners, Pastoralists,. bush campers and many others as well.
  • Aboriginal cultural heritage and related terms
    (1) Aboriginal cultural heritage means the tangible and intangible (My Emphasis i.e. unable to be touched; not having physical presence. Not definite or clear to the mind.) elements that are important to the Aboriginal people of the State, recognised through social, spiritual, historical, scientific or aesthetic perspectives (including contemporary perspectives).
    (My Emphasis - I assume that by "Contemporary Perspectives" they mean whatever the modern point of view is towards anything as opposed to documented or historical heritage information - in other words it can be made up as we go!)
  • You Might be able to go metal detecting in WA (minimal impact) but if you find a nugget you will need a permit to dig it up (Low Impact Activity) - Really (?).
  • .

If you want to protect YOUR right to go metal detecting and prospecting in WA in the future, then read the proposed Act and put in a submission pointing out its deficiencies.

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Who Has Been Involved in Developing the Act?

Although the Amalgamated Prospectors and Leaseholders Association has been in discussions in recent times with the WA Government about this Act, generally (it seems) their key input has been rejected relating to the small operator and metal detectorist.

APLA have been unable to share these discussions due to confidentiality.

- I have asked APLA for permission to send this APLA Members newsletter to you so you can also provide input to the Government about this draconian Legislation.

- I have also provided links to the APLA Newsletter and the documentation relating to the Act below.

- Don't be swayed by the non-threatening language in the "Pathways" and "FAQ" document - Read the Act and make a judgement from that - it is scary.

SIDEBAR : (please note Udo and I are members of APLA but not involved on their Executive or in any of the discussions about this Act - these opinions are OUR views not those of APLA)

What is the Aboriginal Heritage Act About?

This new legislation will replace the Aboriginal Act 1972.

The current Aboriginal Heritage Bill 1972 will remain in place for 1 year.

It defines and puts into place the new rules relating to access to the Land in WA by people and the measures necessary to get approval to access and undertake activities on the land (ALL land) after Aboriginal Heritage is taken into consideration.

In The Language of the ACT

"4. What this Act is about
(1) This Act is about valuing and protecting Aboriginal cultural heritage and managing activities that may harm that heritage.
(2) Through its terms, this Act recognises the special interest Aboriginal people have in protecting, preserving and managing Aboriginal cultural heritage.

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What is "Land" Defined as Under the Act?

The Act defines Land as "land has the meaning given in the Land Administration 4 Act 1997 section 3(1);"

Which is:"Land means —

(a) all land within the limits of the State; and

(b) all marine and other waters within the limits of the State; and

(c) all coastal waters of the State as defined by section 3(1) of the Coastal Waters (State Powers) Act 1980 of the Commonwealth; and

(d) the sea-bed and subsoil beneath, and all islands and structures within, the waters referred to in paragraphs (b) and (c);

So it covers ALL land in WA not just Crown Land.

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What are the Activities Defined Under the Act?

Some examples of the tiered approach to approvals are taken from the FAQ.

Minimal Impact

Minimal impact activities may include light vehicle patrols, metal detecting and maintaining and refurbishing existing facilities, including recreation and camping facilities, water points, signs and other structures.

Low Impact

Low impact activity means any activity that involves minor ground disturbance, and may include digging pitfall traps and temporary trenches for small animals; and establishing temporary camps for exploration, environment or conservation purposes, where the establishment of the temporary camp does not require the removal of trees or shrubs and does not require any earthworks.

A Permit is Required for Low Impact Activities

"A permit is required for low impact activities. Proponents will be required to notify the Local Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Service or relevant Aboriginal parties prior to submitting an application for a permit. The new Council will also publish any permit application online prior to deciding whether to grant the permit."

Activities greater than this level will require a Heritage Management plan

"It is expected that anthropological and environmental surveys may be required by proponents as part of their due diligence, and to support the development of management plans."

You might be able to go metal detecting but you will not be able to dig the gold out of the ground that you find - you will need a permit to do that !!

That Permit seemingly has a number of time consuming steps:

  • Notify the local Aboriginal Cultural Heritage or Aboriginal parties , prior to,
  • Submitting an application for a permit, which will be published online (and charged for of course) prior to,
  • Deciding whether to grant the permit.

You can clearly see the time, cost and inefficiencies driven into this process already. AND that is for a "Low Impact Activity".

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The Bill - Some Sections to Read.

It is typical of government that they create a lot of words in Bills. This Bill is no exception with a few hundred pages of verbiage to wade through.

Forget the FAQs and Pathways document and read the Act in particular;

Part 4 — Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Council andlocal Aboriginal cultural heritage services

Starts on Page 17 of Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill 2020.

Deals with the creation and duties of these bodies A massively costly bureaucracy that is going to drive cost time and red tape into processes of exploration and mining.

This ACH Council and the local aboriginal cultural heritage services have NO CHANCE OF DEALING WITH THEIR DUTIES UNDER THE ACT IN A TIMELY AND EFFICIENT MANNER!!

Part 7 Part 7 — Offences about harming Aboriginal cultural heritage and the penalties for offences.

Starts on Page 58 of Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill 2020

Also Make sure you look at From Page 127 " part 11 Securing Compliance" and the Powers of Inspectors.

- You may be surprised at the massively draconian penalties and abilities of Inspectors under this act.


In particular read:

213. Power to stop and enter vehicles and ancillary powers;
217. Directions
237. Self-incrimination not an excuse

A Brief Look at Definition of Exemptions

Definition of

- exempt activity means any of the following activities —(a) construction or renovation of a residential building orancillary building on a lot that is less than 1,100m2in accordance with the Planning and Development Act 2005;My note - What of private property greater than 1100m2 in the city?
(b) development of a prescribed type carried out in accordance with the Planning and Development Act 2005;
(c) a subdivision of not more than 5 lots in accordance withthe Planning and Development Act 2005;My note - What of locations in cities and towns?
(d) travelling on an existing road or track;My note - What is the definition of an existing track?
(e) taking photographs for a recreational purpose;
(f) recreational activities carried out on or in public waters or on a public place;
(g) clearing of native vegetation in accordance with aclearing permit granted and in force under theEnvironmental Protection Act 1986 Part V Division 2;My note - What of clearing other trees or vegetation on Private property
(h) burning that is done — (i) for fire prevention or control purposes or otherfire management works on Crown land; and
(ii) by the FES Commissioner as defined in the Fireand Emergency Services Act 1998 section 3;
(i) reploughing or reclearing an established fire-break;My note - Does this include new firebreaks
(j) any other prescribed activity;

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Links to Various Documents.

Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill
Assessment Criteria Aboriginal Heritage Act 2000 - Tiered Apporach
Overview of the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2020
APLA Newsletter to Members about Aboriginal Heritage Act Changes
Aboriginal Heritage Act Submissions Page
Here are some links to the Updated Corona Virus Travel Updates pages. Corona Virus Latest Updates Page

WA Corona Virus Roadmap Controls from 18 May 2020

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Gold Prospecting WA Facebook Page

...Sorry about the dry nature of this newsletter but it will have an impact on everyone. Please provide your input to the Government on the Bill.


Udo and Bill

Nobody gets ALL the gold. There’s still plenty left for you.

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