The opposition says the introduction of the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act has been “shambolic”, leading to uncertainty and anxiety in the community.
Liberal planning spokesman Neil Thomson called on the state Labor government to delay the rollout of the laws for at least six months.
“People are worried about their future and fear being bound up in red tape which could require permits for things such as putting a new fence in, digging a dam or removing noxious vegetation,” he said on Wednesday, ahead of the petition being tabled in parliament.
The Liberal and Nationals alliance said the government needed to provide more information to those affected by the laws about their obligations.
“Farmers, pastoralists and companies that provide services such as plumbing and civil contracting are all trying to work out the implications, as are hobby farmers around the metropolitan area that are deeply concerned about what they will be allowed to do on their land without a permit,” Mr Thomson said.
Delaying the implementation, which is scheduled for July 1, would also allow time for an approvals system to be set up and for local Aboriginal cultural heritage advisory services to be established, he said.
The Pastoralists and Graziers Association of WA said the government had not listened to and addressed the concerns of farmers, pastoralists, miners, developers and Aboriginal corporations.
President Tony Seabrook said Aboriginal corporations were not ready to carry out surveys and landholders would be forced to instead contract local native title representative bodies, whose fees are not prescribed under the legislation.
The Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage said that under the legislation, landholders will need to ensure an Indigenous cultural heritage survey has been completed before building infrastructure such as paddocks and dams.
If a survey has not been completed, the landowners will need to pay for one.
If no Aboriginal cultural heritage is found, there is no requirement for approval before commencing work.
It’s illegal to impact Aboriginal cultural heritage without authorisation.
But people undertaking like-for-like activities are exempt from the laws, such as farmers working on established paddocks.
Residential properties under 1110sq m in size are also exempt, while those over 1100sq m have significant exemptions, including for activities like installing a patio or pool.
The government has previously ruled out delaying the rollout date of the laws, a position supported by the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies.
Chief executive Warren Pearce said the body had consulted extensively with traditional owners, industry and the state government over the past three years to develop a workable Aboriginal cultural heritage model.
“Throughout the co-design process there has been consistent recognition of the need for stronger cultural heritage protection while ensuring there are well-resourced systems, policies and processes in place to support the legislative reforms,” he said.
“Postponing the introduction of these reforms will only cause more uncertainty in the industry and delays for exploration companies.”