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Indigenous art industry threatened by Government inaction.

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PETER GARRETT MP Member for Kingsford Smith Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Reconciliation and the Arts

The Hon Warren Snowdon MP Member for Lingiari Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Northern Australia and Indigenous Affairs


10 March 2006

Indigenous art industry threatened by Government inaction

The past week’s series of rolling revelations concerning the exploitation of Indigenous artists by some unscrupulous art dealers and galleries demands urgent action from state and federal governments to ensure the Indigenous art trade is fair and Indigenous artists are not taken advantage of by so-called ‘carpetbaggers’.

Minister Kemp’s lack of action so far on this issue is inexcusable, particularly as similar accusations were raised a decade ago. The Indigenous Art Trade Association was formed in 1998 as a result of this very problem.

Now it seems the best the Minister can manage is to claim that he is seeking “urgent advice” from his department; this is unacceptable. The problem has been around for years yet Indigenous artists are still in a state of limbo and unethical practices flourish. Indigenous artists are also still waiting for a response from the Attorney-General regarding a resale royalty scheme.

The Minister needs to lay out what measures he will consider.

Will he commit to supporting more art co-operatives? Will he ask the Treasurer to commit the ATO to an investigation of the huge cash economy associated with these practices? Will he ensure the issue is listed for debate at the upcoming Cultural Ministers Council to engage State governments? Will he support the establishment of a national framework for the licensing of Indigenous galleries and dealers? Will he do anything at all?

As the Indigenous art sector continues to grow, playing a significant role in Australian and international markets, Minister Kemp must make it a priority to ensure better protection of Indigenous artists from these deplorable practices.

It’s time we heard something constructive from the Minister.

Contact: Andrew Palfreyman (Peter Garrett) Warren Snowdon 0418 988 677 0419 626 601