Legislative Council: Wednesday, May 17, 2023


Witton Bluff Base Trail Project

The Hon. J.S. LEE (Deputy Leader of the Opposition) (14:40): 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. J.S. LEE: On Tuesday 2 May, the minister advised this place that upon further advice on the matter of the Witton Bluff Base Trail project, he had decided that there was a possibility for a conflict of interest, perceived or otherwise, in relation to an application made under section 23 of the Aboriginal Heritage Act. The minister for environment and heritage has accepted the decision-making responsibility in relation to this application. On Thursday 4 May, when asked whether there were any briefings from the department during this time, the minister advised this place, and I quote:

I regularly get updates on all heritage matters—well, regular updates on heritage matters from the department; those that are under consultation or those that are looking at consultation.

My questions to the minister are:

1. Can the minister advise how many briefings he or his staff had prior to the minister for environment and heritage accepting the decision-making responsibility in relation to this application?

2. What advice was given to the minister at those briefings?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (14:42): I thank the minister for her question and for repeating, I think for the fourth time, exactly the same question. I am happy to answer it once more, and I am even more happy if the Liberal opposition want to ask the same question in different ways. It does make the government's job very easy but is probably not the best use of their time. Again, I am very happy to answer questions over and over again.

As I had previously outlined when this question was asked the first two or three times, this is a matter where I took advice. I handed it to another decision-maker, who is the Deputy Premier. The Deputy Premier will consider the information and make a decision in due course. As I have said previously, I regularly, at regular scheduled meetings, have updates on Aboriginal heritage matters.