In an effort to end the import of ‘fake’ Aboriginal art, the Greens are set to introduce legislation that would overhaul the way Aboriginal art is marketed and sold.
According to the Arts Law Centre of Australia, around 80 per cent of pieces marketed to tourists in shops are inauthentic and the sale of ‘fake art’ amounts to around $200 million a year.
Unfortunately for Aboriginal artists, “indigenous-style” art is not illegal.
On Friday, July 13, Greens candidate for Mayo Major ‘Moogy’ Sumner and Senator Sarah Hanson-Young announced the party’s intention to introduce the Competition and Consumer Amendment (Exploitation of Indigenous Culture) Bill 2017 as a Private Senator’s Bill.
This Bill would prevent non-First Australians from profiting from the sale of appropriated Indigenous art, souvenirs and other cultural items.
It would instate maximum penalties for an individual of $25,000, and $200,000 for a company.
An artist himself, Moogy said he had seen first-hand Aboriginal artists being exploited and overlooked when it came to producing their art for larger markets.
“It’s 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,” he said.
“All the way down the production line the people who are profiting are not Aboriginal artists.”
He said there was a lot to celebrate when it came to Aboriginal arts and culture, and it was time to share their authentic art with the rest of the world.
Ms Sarah Hanson-Young said Aboriginal artists had been ripped off for too long.
“Consumers have been duped by souvenirs imported to Australia from places like Indonesia and China where it is cheap to produce,” she said.
“Fake Aboriginal art robs Aboriginal artists of income and exposure, and the Parliament can do something about this.”
She said the trade existed 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,” she said.