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On the cusp of new Heritage Legislation

On 12 September 2018, Parliament passed the Heritage Bill 2017, effectively giving Western Australia a new Heritage Act.

The new Act will replace the outdated Heritage of Western Australia Act 1990 and bring Western Australia in line with other States to ensure better protections for important heritage places, in particular, those left to 'demolition by neglect'.

The new Act is the result of intensive community consultation following a State Government commitment to overhaul the sometimes complex, inflexible and unclear heritage assessment and consultation processes.

Key changes include a streamlined process for entering a place in the State Register; certainty for owners wishing to develop their heritage places; and increased transparency by publishing the Heritage Council's advice to the Minister for Heritage on the inclusion of a place in the State Register.

Greater protection for State registered places will also occur through a mix of incentives such as grants and access to technical assistance.

The new Act also balances identifying and recording local heritage places without imposing controls on owner's properties.

The new Act will come into force once the necessary regulations to give effect to the new Act have been developed in consultation with stakeholders over coming months.

Read Heritage Minister David Templeman’s media statement.

On 8 November 2017, Heritage Minister David Templeman introduced the Heritage Bill 2017 into Parliament where it will be debated.

Read the Minister's speech introducing the bill here.

The Heritage Bill 2017 is the culmination of a review of the Heritage Of Western Australia Act 1990,  and will provide modern, updated legislation to preserve places that tell the story of our State's history and development.

This Heritage Bill has been developed through three rounds of stakeholder and community consultation. Feedback from this public consultation has helped inform new heritage legislation that is open, transparent, simple to operate and easy to understand, and able to reflect best practice in the recognition and protection of heritage places.


The Review of the Heritage Act involved two phases of community consultation in 2011 and a third in 2015.

The first phase of the review involved the release of the Consultation Paper and sought views on the effectiveness of current legislation and what a contemporary Heritage Act should look like.

Through a series of stakeholder meetings and formal submissions, the general consensus was that the Heritage Act, which had its origins in the 1970s and 80s, was out-dated and inadequate.

The Act was characterised by a lack of clarity, cumbersome and inefficient processes, difficulties in interpreting the legislation and perceptions of its effectiveness.

This feedback assisted in the development of the Discussion Paper for phase two of the review. The Discussion Paper outlined a series of proposals that might form the basis of a new Heritage Act.

Further stakeholder meetings were held and formal submissions invited. This information assisted in the preparation of the Heritage Bill 2015 (Exposure Draft).

The Heritage Bill 2016 was introduced in Parliament by the previous government, but a change in state government in early 2017 saw the legislative process recommence under the McGowan Labor Government.

What is included in the Green Bill

The Green Bill retains features of the current Heritage Act that have served well in the recognition and protection of Western Australia’s most important heritage places during the past 27 years.

Informed by the feedback received in the two phases of public consultation, the Green Bill also addresses the shortcomings of the current Heritage Act by introducing new features that reflect contemporary heritage management principles and practice.

The major proposed reforms are:

  • Clarifying the sorts of places that will be considered for entry in the State Register
  • Introducing a one-step process to assess and recommend the entry of a place in the State Register
  • Ensuring openness and transparency by legislating that Heritage Council and Ministerial decisions on State Registration are published
  • Introduction of a Repair Order to address genuine cases of demolition by neglect
  • The ability to provide more incentives to owners and local governments
  • Improving the development referral process
  • Provides clarity for the purpose, compilation and maintenance of Municipal Heritage Inventories
  • Better protection for archaeological and moveable objects situated in State Registered Places

Heritage Bill 2017 must be passed by the Legislative Assembly before being referred to the Legislative Council for consideration.


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