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What is the purpose of the Regulations?

In September 2018, the Heritage Bill 2017 passed by both Houses of Parliament effectively giving Western Australia a new heritage Act (Heritage Act 2018).

The Heritage Regulations 2019 (also known as the Proclamation Regulations) expands on or supplements certain provisions of the Heritage Act 2018.  In summary, the Heritage Act 2018 establishes the general laws and the Heritage Regulations 2019 provide the specific ways in which those laws are interpreted and applied.

What do the regulations cover?

The Proclamation Regulations are divided into six Parts. These Parts relate to the Heritage Council of Western Australia, the State Register of Heritage Places, Repair Notices, proposals affecting places of heritage interest, and other provisions (miscellaneous). The first Part provides details on the citation, commencement and terms used in the draft Regulations.

Once the Heritage Act 2018 is proclaimed there will be a period of review to consider whether further regulations are required.

What was the purpose of the consultation?

There has been substantial public interest in updating heritage legislation, and the Heritage Act 2018 is the result of extensive consultation.  It is important to ensure that the proclamation regulations are given due consideration and meet the needs of modern legislation.  As such, the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage sought comments on the proposed proclamation regulations.

How long was consultation period?

The draft Proclamation Regulations were released for public comment on 5 March 2019. The consultation period was open for eight (8) weeks with submissions closing at 5pm on 3 May 2019.

When will the Heritage Act 2018 come into force?

Before the Heritage Act 2018 can be proclaimed, the Proclamation Regulations must be approved by the Governor to ensure the new Act will have its intended effects.

The Heritage of Western Australia Act 1990 will continue to guide the conservation of places which have significance to the cultural heritage of the State until the new Act is proclaimed.

Why has the Act changed?

The Heritage of Western Australia Act 1990 (1990 Act) was written at a time when legislators responded to the community’s demands for the protection of its heritage places amid the demolition of a significant proportion of Perth’s built heritage in the name of progress. Almost as soon as it came into operation over 28 years ago, the 1990 Act was found to have many flaws and shortcomings that created obstacles to its effectiveness: complex and redundant assessment and consultation processes, inflexible development referral requirements, countless ambiguities and arcane language that is hard to comprehend and expensive to administer.

The Heritage Act 2018 reflects contemporary attitudes to heritage and modern heritage management practice. It anticipates ongoing change and encourages the use of our heritage places as integral to vibrant communities. It also brings a new level of efficiency and transparency that has consultation and negotiation at its heart, rather than imposition and heavy-handed regulation, to achieve the goal of identifying, recognising and protecting Western Australia’s most precious heritage places for current and future generations.

What are the main changes to the new Act?

The Heritage Act 2018 retains features of the 1990 Act that have served well in the recognition and protection of Western Australia’s most important heritage places during the past 25 years. It also addresses the shortcomings of the 1990 Act by introducing new features that reflect contemporary heritage management principles and practice. The main changes include:

  • Clarifying the sorts of places that will be considered for entry in the State Register, and the key features that contribute to their cultural heritage significance through a definition of ‘place’ that is consistent with national and international standards.
  • Adopting clear heritage assessment criteria that are widely accepted in all Australian jurisdictions.
  • Improving openness and transparency through reforms such as the requirement for the Heritage Council to publish its advice when recommending the entry of a place in the State Register to the Minister for Heritage, and for the requirement for the Minister’s decision to be published.
  • Improving certainty and predictability for owners and stakeholders is delivered through development referral processes that will promote sustainable and adaptive reuse of State registered places.
  • Introducing a Repair Order that is common in all Australian jurisdictions. This will enable the Minister for Heritage, under strict conditions, to address genuine cases of demolition by neglect by requiring an owner to make the place safe and secure

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