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20    Indigenous Australians—Return of Artefacts to the Gweagal People

Senator Siewert, also on behalf of Senator Rhiannon, pursuant to notice of motion not objected to as a formal motion, moved general business notice of motion no. 61—That the Senate—

    (a)   notes that:

                  (i)   in 1770, two members of the Gweagal people stood on the shore of the place now called Botany Bay, as a boat containing James Cook and some of his crew approached the shore,

                 (ii)   the Gweagal men were holding spears and a shield and they attempted to warn off the interlopers, an action that was responded to with gunfire,

                (iii)   one of the men, Cooman, was shot in the leg and he ran for cover, dropping his shield,

                (iv)   this shield and a number of spears and other artefacts from their camp were taken by James Cook and given to the British Museum when he returned there, and the shield and a number of the spears remain in the Museum’s collection, and

                 (v)   a significant number of the spears taken are now also held by the Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology;

    (b)   acknowledges that:

                  (i)   it is a core part of Aboriginal belief that artefacts must be kept on the country they came from, as they form a part of the ongoing story of that place,

                 (ii)   laws covering Aboriginal cultural heritage in New South Wales recognise the strong connection between Aboriginal people, their land and their artefacts, and

                (iii)   the Gweagal people and their descendants are the rightful and lawful owners of all artefacts produced on their territory, including the shield and spears held in the British Museum and the Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology;

     (c)   recognises the work done by Cooman’s descendant Mr Rodney Kelly to push for the repatriation of these important artefacts;

    (d)   supports the repatriation of these important artefacts to the Gweagal people; and

     (e)   requests that the Australian Government extend diplomatic assistance to Mr Rodney Kelly while he is in the United Kingdom seeking the return of the artefacts.

Statement by leave : The Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister (Senator McGrath), by leave, made a statement relating to the motion.

Question put and passed.