The State Government insists that a landmark indigenous cultural centre will be a central drawcard at Elizabeth Quay despite shelving it for the foreseeable future.
Planning, Culture and Arts Minister John Day said 1.5ha of the Perth waterfront project had been allocated for the tourist attraction.
The cultural centre, which could cost about $500 million, was not included in the first stage of the waterfront development and any planning work for it stopped two years ago, Mr Day said.
The business-backed think tank the Committee for Perth and Aboriginal, cultural and tourism groups have called for a national indigenous cultural centre to help make Perth the first Australian city to fully celebrate and promote indigenous culture.
The race could well be lost before it begins, with the NSW Government considering a national indigenous centre as a keystone in its $7 billion redevelopment of the Barangaroo precinct on Sydney Harbour.
Mr Day said the $428 million redevelopment of the WA Museum, due to be completed in 2019, was the principal cultural infrastructure priority.
"We can't do everything at once and there are huge capital works projects under way," he said.
"I don't want to give people false expectations."
Mr Day said the scale of such a project would require the Federal Government to help foot the bill.
"The development of Elizabeth Quay presents an unparalleled opportunity to celebrate and promote Aboriginal art, heritage and learning in a location that is both culturally significant and highly accessible to local indigenous groups, students and tourists," he said.
The 1.5ha reserved for the centre was a bigger site than either the Art Gallery of WA or the WA Museum.
Noongar artist and cultural adviser Richard Walley said the Government and private sector should start work on a business case for a complex that could stand up on the world stage.
"A showcase like that would be a highlight for Perth," Dr Walley said.
"We would like to reinvigorate the interest in this."
Committee for Perth chief executive Marion Fulker said a major centre for indigenous culture should be a cultural anchor of the waterfront project.
The committee was looking to build momentum for a festival to demonstrate the quality of WA's indigenous art, Ms Fulker said.