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Time to end the import of ‘fake’ Aboriginal Art

Media Release
Sarah Hanson-Young 13 Jul 2018

The Australian Greens have announced today (Friday) they will introduce legislation to ban the import and sale of fake Aboriginal art, to overhaul the way Aboriginal art is marketed and sold, ensure its authenticity and protect the artists who produce it.

“For too long, Aboriginal artists have been ripped off and consumers have been duped by souvenirs imported to Australia from places like Indonesia and China where it is cheap to produce,” Greens arts and trade spokesperson Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.

“Fake Aboriginal art robs Aboriginal artists of income and exposure, and the Parliament can do something about this. The trade exists because people want to buy Aboriginal art. We can make sure what they are buying is authentic by legislating a ban and penalties to individuals and companies that do not adhere to that ban. 

“Hundreds of thousands of tourists come to our shores each year, and too many of them leave with souvenirs that they may think are supporting local artists, but they are not. When 80 per cent of pieces marketed to tourists are inauthentic, it shows our hardworking artists – and consumers – are being ripped off.”

This Bill would prevent non-Aboriginal people from profiting from the sale or import of appropriated Indigenous art, souvenirs and other cultural items.

“There are thousands of Aboriginal artists in Australia creating beautiful art. We want visitors to our country bringing home the real deal, rather than cheap knock-offs.”

Greens candidate for Mayo, Ngarrindjeri elder Major ‘Moogy’ Sumner AM, said he sees all too often Aboriginal artists being exploited and overlooked when it comes to producing their art for larger markets.

“It is heartbreaking to see artworks marked as ‘authentic’ when they’ve been created in another country, and sent over here, without any input from Aboriginal people. All the way down the production line the people who are profiting are not Aboriginal artists,” Mr Sumner said.

“There’s a lot to celebrate when it comes to Aboriginal arts and culture, it’s time to share our authentic art with the rest of the world.”

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