Aboriginal Corporation CEO David Collard has been sacked after demanding $2.5 million from the government to allow Perth to plant trees.
Perth cancels riverside tree-planting event Wadzuk Aboriginal Corporation claims $2.5m Leader David Collard has now been sacked from the role
The leader of an Aboriginal corporation who demanded $2.5 million to approve two tree-planting events has been fired from his role.
Landcare volunteers were due to roll up their sleeves to plant 5,500 saplings along Perth’s Canning River at the weekend.
But the event was interrupted after Wadzuk Aboriginal Corporation CEO David Collard raised eyebrows about Western Australia’s new Aboriginal Heritage Act, demanding $2.5 million to allow it to go ahead.
Wadzuk Aboriginal Corporation chief executive David Collard (pictured) has been sacked from his role but the corporation insists it was not because of the planting story.
He has now been fired from his role but the corporation insists it was not because of the planting story.
The corporation said in a statement, ‘The employment relationship with Mr Collard ended in July 2023 and was unrelated to the Canning River Plantation.
There is danger of the seedlings dying and wasting away.
Stephen Johnston of South East Regional Landcare told Seven News, ‘We need to get them down to the ground to make the most of the wet soil.’
It comes after WA’s revamped Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act came into effect with tougher penalties for damaging sites of traditional importance.
Many rivers, creeks and other tributaries are now considered anthropogenic sites, requiring the highest level of assessment for alteration.
Canning River is one of those now recognized as a site of Aboriginal cultural importance.
At least three community tree-planting events have been canceled since the new law took effect a fortnight ago.
Thousands of saplings were to be planted along Perth’s Canning River (pictured).
City of Canning Mayor Patrick Hall (left) and land conservation advocates are outraged by the decision.
Frustrated mayors have pleaded with the WA Government to step in and fix the problem.
‘We stand here today in solidarity with these environmental groups, somebody needs to clarify this law – it’s a bit of a mess,’ said City of Canning Mayor Patrick Hall.
Western Australia’s Aboriginal Affairs Minister Tony Booty said the lack of planting in the Canning River was ‘incredibly disappointing’ but insisted the state’s Aboriginal heritage regime had had a ‘pretty smooth’ start otherwise, The Australian reported.
However, Opposition Leader Shane Love said the new law had led to ‘absolute chaos’ and was acting as a handbrake on many industries.
He urged Dr Buti to step down from the Ministry of Tribal Affairs.
Mr Love said: ‘If anyone is to blame, it is Dr Booty and his handling of this whole situation as a minister.’
We told him before it came in that the community was not ready and in the short time since the legislation was introduced it is very clear what the regulations actually mean and how business and community groups and landowners can negotiate their way through them.’
Thousands of saplings that were supposed to be planted are now in danger of dying
Shadow Defense Minister Andrew Hastie, who is also the federal member for Canning, wants the new laws scrapped.
‘The Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Acts are only two weeks old, and already an Aboriginal corporation is using them to demand millions of dollars,’ he wrote on Sunday night.
‘It’s time to repeal these divisive laws by (WA Premier) Roger Cook.’
The latest tensions came a week after the $232 million Mitchell Freeway extension was thrown into chaos a week after its opening when two Aboriginal elders clashed over the right to hold a smoking ceremony.
Deputy Minister Rita Safioti was seen hurrying away to consult an official at the launch while Wadzak Nungar man Steve Jacobs sparred with another Aboriginal man over the right to officiate the ceremony.
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