THE WA Government has introduced a new Heritage Bill to State Parliament, which will replace the Heritage of Western Australia Act 1990 with modern, updated legislation.
According to the government, the Bill retains the strengthened penalties for deliberate destruction of registered places and responds to the community's call for better protection for important heritage places that are left to become run down and at risk from 'demolition by neglect'.
Operationally, the new legislation significantly streamlines the process for entering a place in the State Register and will increase transparency by requiring the publication of the Heritage Council's advice to the Minister for Heritage on inclusion of a place in the State Register.
Heritage Minister David Templeman described the Heritage Bill 2017 as a significant step in ensuring heritage legislation is aligned with contemporary community values.
"The new legislation brings forward elements of the current Act that have served the interests of the community well for the last 27 years, while addressing its shortcomings," Mr Templeman said.
"A new Heritage Act will provide Western Australia with legislation that is open, transparent, simple to operate and understand and reflects best practice in the recognition and protection of heritage places."
Chairperson of the Heritage Council of Western Australia, Anne Arnold, said the Bill has been developed through three rounds of stakeholder and community consultation, and by drawing on the Heritage Council's experience in administering the legislation designed to protect Western Australia's most important heritage places.
"It sets out simpler and less time-consuming processes to assess cultural significance using nationally accepted criteria. It also provides more certainty and predictability for owners, decision-makers and the community when development of State-registered places is proposed," Ms Arnold said.