The Sydney Morning Herald has a very good piece on the looting and destruction of aboriginal sites in New South Wales, and the link to online auction sites like ebay.
The situation is infuriating indigenous groups and heritage experts, who say NSW has the most toothless protection regime in Australia.NSW has successfully prosecuted just 10 cases for destroying or disturbing heritage without permission since 2005.The NSW Environment Department litigation manager, Gordon Plath, said prosecutions were increasing but were difficult to secure because state law required proof that heritage was destroyed knowingly.A Bourke collector prosecuted last year for selling stone axes and tools on the auction website eBay was caught because his advertisement demonstrated he had knowingly committed the crime.He was charged under the National Parks and Wildlife Act with disturbing up to 129 Aboriginal objects and defacing two of them and fined $1650.
It seems one of the difficulties is ineffective legislation in New South Wales in particular. As the former Head of Aboriginal heritage policy at the Environment Department, Brad Moggridge says in the piece, “The legislation is not worth the paper it’s written on. The provisions aren’t there to protect. The penalties aren’t there to deter people. There should be an Aboriginal heritage act like most other states have.”