ebay and Aboriginal Heritage

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.”

Questions or Comments? Email me at derek.fincham@gmail.com

2 thoughts on “ebay and Aboriginal Heritage”

  1. a definite line needs to be drawn in the sand. Any artefact collected prior to October 1967, regardless of the land tenture it was collected, is the legal and lawful right of the owner to sell,swap or barter as they see fit. The smh headline is sensational and the whole point it is making is really about current legislation in nsw regarding aboriginal heritage sites , not the old farmer who saved two or three axes from destruction from machinery back in the 1950s and sat them on his verandah.
    When and if these artefacts are given back to the local landscouncil or npws rep, they show up at caravan sites for tourist to buy.
    Search any reputable tribal art dealer in sydney and you can purchase whatever aboriginal artefact you want.

    1. Artefacts dont have dates on them, if people are serious about protecting heritage they should pass them on to the museums, museums will only pass on to communitys if they have the appropriate storage facilitys, their are heaps of old practices that were considered “normal” but are now considered wrong, its called evolution, in my state Aboriginal heritage belongs to Aboriginal people as Aboriginal heritage is part of the culture regardless of who finds them, only desperate immoral people would seek monetary gains from Aboriginal cultural objects, we are still trying to piece together the history and storys of Aboriginal culture, by keeping and selling your destroying parts of Australian history, it makes you a historical vandal

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