Parliament Updates

Zali Steggall MP seconds a motion to prevent exploitation of Indigenous culture and art

31 August, 2020


I second the motion. The Competition and Consumer Amendment (Exploitation of Indigenous Culture) Bill 2020 strives to prevent the exploitation of Indigenous culture and ensure fair compensation to Indigenous artists. Currently royalties are not always returned to the original artist, and the exploitation of Indigenous art and Indigenous style art is rife. In 2016 the Indigenous Art Centre Alliance estimated that up to 80 per cent of the products sold on the souvenir market were made overseas, with little or no benefit to Indigenous artists or communities. So I want to ensure that Indigenous artists and groups are appropriately compensated for their art, especially if it's mass-produced elsewhere.

Some may argue that the successful prosecution of Birubi Art in the Federal Court last year demonstrates that Indigenous artists are sufficiently protected under the current legislation. However, it has been found that the same company has since reformed, under a different banner, and continues to distribute Indigenous style products with a 'Made in Indonesia' tag. So, despite litigation, no royalties go to Indigenous artists for these products

Indigenous artists continue to face myriad issues beyond those covered by the bill. Indigenous artists are often inadequately compensated for original artworks. This is about protecting artists and culture. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and designs can be licensed and turned into merchandise because of the images and stories they present—an expression of the distinctive culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. There is huge pride in Australia in Indigenous culture and art, from all Australians, and it is the government's duty to ensure we do everything possible to protect Indigenous art.