WA farmers protest controversial Indigenous land heritage laws

MP Darren West faced severe criticism at a WAFarmers meeting over mishandled cultural heritage legislation.

WA farmers protest controversial Indigenous land heritage laws
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Furious farmers heckled a West Australian MP attempting to explain his government’s controversial cultural heritage laws this week.

Darren West struggled to be heard as he fronted hundreds of angry landowners at a WAFarmers meeting in Katanning.

The MP admitted the messaging around the controversial laws had been “botched”, much to the bemusement of the crowd.

Many farmers walked out before West had even finished his remarks.

The rollout of the new legislation which purports to protect culturally significant sites in WA has been a disaster for the government.

Landowners say the legislation is confusing, costly and undermines property rights.

West, himself a farmer, tried to calm the crowd, assuring them the new laws were “not to be feared”.

“This law applied more to mining companies that drill, blast and dig, than it does to us (farmers) who predominantly work on top of the ground as we have for a hundred or so years,” he said.

But his confession that the new laws were botched did not help his cause. The admission drew ironic cheers from the crowd.

“Now … we’ve botched the messaging, we haven’t messaged this well and we acknowledge that, and we’re working on that.”

Liberal MLC Neil Thomson told the meeting he agreed the heritage law messaging was “botched”.

“It’s completely botched … I agree with you there.”

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