WA Aborigines warn on heritage act


WA Aborigines warn on heritage act

By Leon Harrison

PERTH — Aboriginal representatives have warned of a strong reaction if the state government goes ahead with pro-mining amendments to the WA Aboriginal Heritage Act.

Following a statewide gathering of 40 Aboriginal representatives, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commissioner Leah Bell condemned government claims that efforts to protect cultural areas were vexatious and opportunist. Bell warned that Aboriginal support for the Labor Party was not automatic.

Ngalia Aborigines opposing the Yakabindie nickel mine, 100 km south of Wiluna, say more than a dozen sites have already been desecrated by mining activity. Ngalia Heritage Research Council representative Peter Muir says Aboriginal affairs minister Judith Watson has done nothing to protect numerous threatened sites.

Meanwhile, an inquest into the death of Aboriginal prisoner Edward Isaacs, 36, of heart failure on January 25 at Canning Vale prison, heard that prison authorities ignored Isaacs' frequent complaints of chest pain and requests for transfer to Fremantle Prison Hospital. Prison medics prescribed aspirin in response to Isaacs' complaints.