Legislative Council: Thursday, December 01, 2022


Witton Bluff Base Trail Project

The Hon. L.A. CURRAN (14:58): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking a question of the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs about the Witton Bluff base trail project.

Leave granted.

The Hon. L.A. CURRAN: In 2018, the Labor Party made a commitment to the southern community that they would complete the Witton Bluff base trail project to link the beautiful townships of Christies Beach and Port Noarlunga. In 2020, it was a Liberal government who approved the funding for this project, matching Onkaparinga council's commitment. It's my understanding that it now sits with the Labor government and you as minister for approval under the Aboriginal Heritage Act, section 23.

My question to the minister is: does the Labor government remain committed to the 2018 campaign commitment and when, as the minister responsible for the Aboriginal Heritage Act, will you approve the Witton Bluff base trail project?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (14:59): I thank the honourable member for her important question about the Witton Bluff base trail. I can confirm there has been an application made under the Aboriginal Heritage Act by the proponents of a project for a trail that takes you from the Christies Beach area to the Port Noarlunga area.

Under the Aboriginal Heritage Act under section 23, if there is anything that is going to damage or disturb Aboriginal heritage, an application has to be made for the minister to decide whether that is done or not. There are legislative requirements for consultation under, I think, sections 12 and 13 of the Aboriginal Heritage Act, which has been in force in South Australia since 1988.

Quite rightly, there are onerous requirements for consultation to make sure those Aboriginal people with an interest in certain Aboriginal objects or heritage are consulted. That consultation has been conducted by the department for Aboriginal Affairs in South Australia, after an application was made by the proponent. One thing I certainly won't do is rush legislative requirements under an act to consider Aboriginal heritage implications for a new project. That is ongoing, and a decision will be made in due course.