A Labor MP has pinned blame for the shambolic implementation of updated Aboriginal heritage laws at the feet of the government agency overseeing the rollout while telling constituents she could “completely understand the angst”. A WhatsApp message sent last Friday by Sandra Carr to a Chapman Valley community group reveals the Agricultural Region MLC appearing to throw the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage under the bus over the new regime. The correspondence – obtained by The West Australian – came one day before the legislation came into effect on Saturday and in the midst of a maelstrom of confusion, particularly among farmers, over the consultation process required under the new Act. “Hi All, I completely understand the angst around the implementation of the new ACH Act, but can I please humbly ask that we remain respectful of all Australians,” Ms Carr wrote. “The thing we are all united on is the fact that all groups are frustrated at the rollout from DPH. “I am worried about the impact of that frustration being targeted at our indigenous population. Those groups are equally as frustrated. “Please feel free to get in touch, I am happy to keep advocating for all.” Opposition Leader Shane Love said the message highlighted the depth of concerns over the new Act extended to the Labor backbench. “What we now know is even WA Labor’s own members are concerned about the rollout of the ACH Act, who are now adding their voices behind closed doors to the near 30,000 petitioners and others who have been expressing their concern in forums and direct to Government,” he said. The Premier and (Aboriginal Affairs Minister Tony Buti) need to get their heads out of the sand and realise they have botched this process from start to finish – what hope does this process have if even the Minister’s colleagues don’t support it. Mr Love added it was “unfair” for Ms Carr to blame DLPH “when it is Minister Buti and Premier Cook who have set an arbitrary and unworkable timeline”. Responding to questions about the message, Ms Carr told The West Australian her intent was to remind the WhatsApp group it contained a diverse spread of the community “and to ask people to keep the conversation respectful”. “I have been helping to support consultation and engagement on this legislation in the community,” Ms Carr said. “Part of that work has resulted in additional education sessions to be held throughout the Agricultural Region. “It has been my experience that, once constituents receive that information, they are generally comfortable with the Act and its intention.” Following three years of consultation and drafting, the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act was rushed through Parliament in a matter of days in late 2021 in the midst of the COVID pandemic. The implications of the new laws went largely unrealised until the release of regulations outlining the detail in early April – just three months before the legislation came into effect. Other key documents, including guidelines for surveys commissioned to identify and manage Aboriginal cultural heritage, were not released until less than a fortnight before the July 1 implementation date – and underwent multiple unexplained revisions within the space of days. Adding to the sense of disorganisation, none of what will eventually be 40 Local Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Services – planned one-stop shops for landowners that need to consult with traditional owners – were established prior to the laws coming into effect. Thousands of people attended workshops hosted by DPLH to explain the changes in the weeks leading up to July 1, with agency staff left to field questions about specific scenarios they sometimes could not answer.