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Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement
Trade in elephant ivory and rhinoceros horn

RAFFAN, Jane, Vice-President, Auctioneers and Valuers Association of Australia

CHAIR: Welcome. Thank you for talking to us today. The committee has received the AVAA's submission as submission 49. Do you wish to make any amendments to your submission?

Jane Raffan : No, thank you.

CHAIR: Would you like to make an opening statement before we go to questions?

Jane Raffan : Yes. The Auctioneers and Valuers Association of Australia is the peak body for auctioneers and valuers of fine art, antiques, materials of cultural heritage and collectible items as well as for auctioneers and valuers of plant, equipment, goods and chattels. The AVAA's submission to this inquiry specifically addressed the committee's review criteria. My address today focuses on matters that divide traders of decorative art in the auction and antiques industry with respect to criteria (i) on supporting efforts to close domestic markets.

The board of the AVAA has been deliberating on the Australian trade in ivory and rhino horn material since March 2017 when we attended the International Fund for Animal Welfare's industry roundtable on the matter. At the time, we could not reach a consensus on a position. The public release of the UK's Ivory Bill which was presented to parliament on 23 May, in tandem with the timing of this committee's important review, enabled us to further consider local factors and international evidence and to reach a consensus. We have released position statements supporting the UK's Ivory Bill and advocating a complete ban on the trade in rhino material, which is not addressed in the bill.

As we've heard, the UK Ivory Bill prohibits dealing in ivory across all commercial, primary, secondary and for-hire markets and also prohibits the import and export of ivory for sale or hire. Exclusions, as we've heard, pertain to rare items and items that contain ivory in small overall proportions or what is known in the industry as a de minimis ratio—a term used in legal doctrine to define or dismiss trifling matters. This ratio exists in legal bans enacted across the world, with different percentages for different classes of objects—from 10 per cent to roughly 50 per cent. Museums are also exempt from the ban, as we've heard today, and will be able to continue buying and lending precious antique ivory works across international borders.

The AVAA acknowledges that the difference between de minimis ratios in categories of items in the UK bill and elsewhere around the world is potentially problematic and large for the antiques industry, but we support its main principle, which is to devalue ivory. The UK's Ivory Bill ensures that the value for decorative arts and other material being traded is not tied to the ivory component because of its strict de minimis ratio. Devaluing ivory through restricting trade is a significant benchmark of conservation efforts and the AVAA supports this endeavour.

The antiques industry both in the UK and here in Australia suggest that any ban on the commercial sale of ivory will be disastrous for the industry, and yet these statements aren't backed by data. A 2017 investigation into the antiques and auction trade in the UK, for example—this is in the submission of the Environmental Investigation Agency—showed that ivory lots sold at auction comprise a mere 0.7 per cent of annual sales. In Australia, items sold at auction containing ivory or with descriptions that use the term, from tiny amounts such as a knob on a chest of drawers and items with ivory inlays to statuary with ivory hands, faces and feet to Asian ivory carvings and whole tusks, totalled 14,500 items over the past 10 years, representing approximately two per cent of total sales of decorative arts at auction. Of this sum, according to the data supplied by my source, the Antiques Reporter, there are more than 6,500 items described simply as 'minor'. Only 365 items are listed in the category 'sculpture and statuary' and 4, 285 are listed in the category 'oriental'. It is also important to consider that items in both those categories are by no means wholly comprised of ivory as this characteristic is actually not recorded in their data. For data in this regard, I would suggest the committee refer to the 2016 report by the International Fund for Animal Welfare on investigations into Australian auction sales. They specifically looked at whole ivory.

The AVAA has considered that any winding back of trade in Australia may impact on certain commercial dealers and auctioneers, but there is also evidence to suggest that it won't necessarily impact on their bottom line. Australian auction house Leonard Joel, presenting here today, took an ethical stance and a leadership position on this issue in 2017 and commenced a self-imposed ban on ivory and rhino horn through their business. Earlier this year they announced that this ban had not resulted in loss of earnings for their decorative arts department, which had in fact increased turnover. This was especially significant for the AVAA in coming to our decision, as Leonard Joel Auction House was previously the largest trader of ivory at auction in Australia.

The submission to this important inquiry by the Australian Antique and Art Dealers Association, which hereafter I will reference as the 'antique dealers association', states that 'much if not most' ivory works of art come from animals that died of natural causes, what is termed in the trade 'mortality ivory'. They further submit that these items have a legitimate right of trade. I submit, however, that there is no way to tell if the ivory used in a bona fide antique carving came from a found tusk or from a slain elephant.

Ethical buying is fast becoming a significant consideration for many consumers, from Aboriginal art to fashion, and there's no reason to suggest that this is different for the auction industry or antiques trade, and we considered this in our decision. Here I'd like to make it clear that I'm not talking about authenticity or legality. It's legal to trade in ivory that falls within the date parameters of CITES, regardless of how it was originally sourced. It's the ethics of doing so that is becoming more and more contentious. Indeed, it is public disgust that has fuelled the rise of crush events, where trinkets and jewellery that have been hidden away in drawers for decades are thrown into crushing machines in public displays. History is full of such changes in thinking. After all, fur coats once filled the ground floor displays of Mark Foy's, just across Hyde Park, and that's in my living memory. Conflict diamonds, which we heard about today, are universally despised. Museums are now returning looted cultural heritage. Ethics aside, the AVAA is not advocating a ban on appreciating the mastery of ivory carving as a pinnacle of human cultural achievement, and we support the exemption in the UK's bill that enables significant works of art of ivory to be acquired and lent by museums.

The antiques dealers association's statement regarding mortality ivory is, however, problematic, if not disingenuous. For example, a 2005 British paper submitted to the international Symposium on Mediterranean Archaeology revealed that the Syrian and North African elephant populations were probably reduced to extinction due to the demand for ivory in the classical world. The same submission to this committee inquiry suggests that antique and modern pre CITIES ivory works of art have a 'right to be traded on the basis of artistic merit'. Their members have signed a code of ethics that restricts them from trading in ivory products made after 1947, and they've said that they can determine exactly that year from inspection. Much of what is traded through antique dealers was, however, manufactured in the 19th century. By the mid-1800s industrialisation of ivory products—including piano keys, knife handles and billiard balls—fuelled soaring Western demand. And, while historical accounts record early traders venturing to Africa to barter with locals for caches of ivory taken from elephants that died naturally, history also documents that this practice soon turned to plunder. Then after these sources were extinguished the hunters with firearms dealt directly with the animals, and the rest we know about. In a report produced for Art Antiques Design in November 2017 it was suggested that from 1850 to 1914, a period when Britain imported some 500 tons of tusks per year, an average of 44,000 elephants were killed annually. In comparison, post CITES, Botswana's stockpiles of mortality ivory accounts for about 15 metric tonnes a year.

Aside from items of statuary, figurines and jewellery wholly composed of ivory, tusks were used for a vast array of trivial items such as serving ware handles, furniture knobs, hair combs, brush handles and other toiletry articles, billiard balls and chess pieces. In the first half of the 20th century the demand for ivory for piano keys alone devastated elephant populations. This is actually not news. As early as 1930 a former American ivory trader ED Moore authored a book titled Ivory Scourge of Africa in which he wrote:

You may be sure that your bit of ivory came from an elephant slaughtered expressly for the ivory it carried.

More recently, following the worldwide ban on the international trade in 1989, the Chinese domestic trade in carved ivory continued under a licensing system that we heard about today that allowed the import of tusks sourced from natural elephant deaths along with police seizures. The antique dealers association's submission did not provide data on sales of ivory and rhino by their members. They have not provided a business case. So, on the subject of a ban being a disaster for the industry, the data isn't transparent or, as they say in environmental paradigms, the science isn't settled. What we do know, however, is that we have a disaster on our hands already—that of the poaching of elephant and rhino. If domestic ivory trade is banned, there will still be museums the world over that'll showcase the finest examples of carving from human history. If the commercial trade continues to fuel poaching directly or indirectly, we will witness elephant extinction, along with rhino, possibly very soon.

Many in the antiques industry suggest that the UK Ivory Bill and other measures introduced worldwide to devalue ivory will not save a single elephant. I hear this all the time. The UK government's submission to this committee inquiry today specifically points out that its measures are designed to counter even the possibility of indirectly fuelling poaching. On this point, and nearing conclusion, I'd like to draw the committee's attention to the EPBC Act, which we talked about earlier today. Under this act—and I'm not going to talk about CITES here—there are guidelines for decision-makers that, I submit, are critically important to the committee's inquiry into the trade in elephant ivory and rhino horn. The act allows for a principle known as the precautionary principle to influence decision-making in a risk based approach when assessing the merits of ecologically sustainable development. The precautionary principle provides a framework for governments to set preventative policies where existing science is incomplete or where no consensus exists regarding a particular threat.

The two considerations critical for this inquiry, I submit, are as follows. Firstly, if there are threats of serious or irreversible environmental damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation. Secondly, on the consideration of the principle of intergenerational equity, the present generation should ensure that the health, diversity and productivity of the environment is maintained or enhanced for the benefit of future generations.

Committee members, I submit that if you insert elephant and rhino, or the environment, in the context before us, the precautionary principle would be triggered and there would be little further debate on the merits of a limited ban versus continued free trade. The AVAA is proud to take a leadership position on this issue in Australia. Pressure and momentum for change is growing internationally, and status quo policy positions within commercial decorative arts markets worldwide are coming under increased scrutiny and challenge. The UK is one of the largest traders of ivory outside of Asia and America, and its new position on this issue is a clarion call. We'd like to see the Australian government enact similar strict measures as well as a complete ban on rhino horn, the trade in which has created a calamitous environmental crisis.

CHAIR: Thank you for your summary. How many members do you have?

Jane Raffan : About 180. Some of those are very large companies, with several hundred members of auction houses.

CHAIR: You said this has been a contentious policy?

Jane Raffan : It's contentious policy in the industry because of the antiques industry. A lot of the auction houses who sell this material are not members, so I'm not speaking for them. They tend to be the high-level auction houses such as Bonhams, including one that's defunct now called Mossgreen.

CHAIR: So how many members do you have?

Jane Raffan : We have 180 formal members.

CHAIR: But you're saying some of the larger auction houses are not members of your association?

Jane Raffan : Correct.

CHAIR: Was the decision unanimous?

Jane Raffan : Not initially. After attending the roundtable, there was a lot of dissension. Nobody felt compelled to act at the time because of the tensions in the industry and also because they weren't sure about the position of Joel's. Joel's, of course, have since proved that they can manage their business very effectively without dealing in large proportions and certain categories of the trade of rhino horn and ivory.

CHAIR: Where would the items that you auction typically come from?

Jane Raffan : We don't auction; we're a peak body.

CHAIR: Sorry. Can you tell us where the members of your association, the auctioneers, would obtain those items that they auction?

Are people importing them from overseas to auction in Australia? Are they family heirlooms that people have found? Are they from someone who thinks the time is right to put this on the market?

Jane Raffan : All of the above. If you have a look at the rhino sales appendix that I submitted with the submission, that Excel spreadsheet includes a lot of detail about provenance for certain items and no detail at all about some. Most of it is local families and/or entities, but where they get it from is up to the auction house to declare and investigate.

CHAIR: Are the buyers domestic or international?

Jane Raffan : Auction houses do not declare buyer make-ups.

CHAIR: Could you hazard a guess?

Jane Raffan : I would love to see a correlation between the sales of items and export permits, but that's not something that is revealed or done.

CHAIR: But, if you were having a hunch, what would you think? Would it be fifty-fifty for people that were collectors in Australia and those shipping overseas? What do you think it would be?

Jane Raffan : I would say that a lot of it is exported. Material that falls within the bounds of CITES regulations would probably be exported.

CHAIR: If we look specifically at the UK legislation, with the exemptions that it has, it has an exemption for items produced before 1947.

Jane Raffan : It has several exemptions. One is for pre-1975 musical instruments with less than 20 per cent ivory, which falls within the recommendations of the submission by the Australian musical body—although they talked about grams. They talked about 200 grams, and the French have actually made an exemption for items—

CHAIR: What type of musical instruments would they be? Is there an ivory inlay?

Jane Raffan : There are piano keys and violin bows—predominantly older ones. The newer ones are made from other kinds of bones—bovine, usually. They're the two main ones: violins and pianos. The exemptions are for pre-1975 musical instruments with less than 20 per cent ivory; pre-1947 items with less than 10 per cent ivory content—and that's the de minimis rule—

CHAIR: If I'm reading that correctly, there's an exemption for rare and significant antiques more than 100 years old.

Jane Raffan : Yes, outstanding high artistic, cultural or historical value predating 1918.

CHAIR: The way I'm reading it, the ban is items produced before 1947 with less than 10 per cent ivory volume. Is that correct?

Jane Raffan : That's an exemption, not a ban.

CHAIR: An exemption—okay. Am I reading that correctly? I'm just reading off another submission here.

Jane Raffan : Yes, that's correct.

CHAIR: So is any ivory item from before 1947 able to be sold?

Jane Raffan : No, it has to fit the de minimis ratio.

CHAIR: Okay. So it can only be sold if it's an antique more than 100 years old and has some significant value? That's what you're suggesting that we have here as well?

Jane Raffan : We support the UK bill newly passing through parliament, having gone through a rigorous public submission process. We understand that the government, if they do decide to do anything with regard to a ban, can look at other legislation around the world which has different de minimis ratios and which also satisfies the problem to a certain degree. But we're supporting the UK bill as it stands.

CHAIR: If we implemented that bill, wouldn't you have the inconsistency where you could import a particular piece that had a certificate that it was made before, I think, 1975, but then you couldn't onsell it?

Jane Raffan : Yes, that's correct.

CHAIR: But you could import a piece that was more than 100 years old and of significant value?

Jane Raffan : Yes.

CHAIR: You could actually sell that.

Jane Raffan : There are inconsistencies, and I believe that in time these will all play out and that governments will align. The UK has taken a particularly strict measure.

CHAIR: That would mean that if someone inherits Aunty Flo's old house and they go through Aunty Flo's old cabinets and things, and they find something in there that might look like a piece of cheap junk to them but could be an item of significant value, if it were aged over 100 years and were a significant piece, they could—

Jane Raffan : They should call somebody from the Auctioneers and Valuers Association and get a proper appraisal to start with.

CHAIR: That's not a paid ad, by the way. Of course they should. If it were a piece of significant value, they could sell that to auction. But if it were a piece of indeterminate value and indeterminate age, they would basically have to keep it as a family heirloom.

Jane Raffan : Very possibly.

CHAIR: What about the argument that, by implementing such a ban, the demand stays there and you're driving the trade—

Jane Raffan : I'm not sure that Auntie Flo's niece or nephew would likely start hoarding things and join the club of underworld gangs just because they couldn't sell their precious heirloom. If it really were a precious heirloom, you would stick on your own mantelpiece.

CHAIR: Are we drying up the supply, if that is the case? We've still got a demand by certain collectors, with very high disposable chequebooks—

Jane Raffan : Certain collectors with very high disposable chequebooks would be going after legitimately highly prized items for artistic value and items that pass the new tests.

CHAIR: That are legitimately traded?

Jane Raffan : Yes.

CHAIR: How do you draw the distinction between, say, an item that's 100 years old and of significant value and an item that is, say, 60 or 70 years old of less value?

Jane Raffan : Therein lies the problem now. Even with 1975 ivory, part of the problem is that new ivory is being faked as old. So that's not going to go away. You just have to make it even more difficult.

CHAIR: There is also a carbon dating test, I understand, for these pieces.

Jane Raffan : That's for the rhino.

CHAIR: Is there carbon dating for the elephant?

Jane Raffan : It can be done but it's not prescribed.

CHAIR: So how would an assessment be made if an item was of a certain age?

Jane Raffan : I think they're relying on documentary evidence to begin with. If you look at the rhino excel spreadsheets submitted with our submission, you'll find that a lot of the provenance there talks about coming with certain paperwork that proves X, Y and Z lineage through the family and so on and so forth, whether or not the family moved around and took these things with them and thus they have paperwork—shipping paperwork and so on and so forth. There are a number of measures before you get to carbon dating.

CHAIR: Is that because of the high cost of carbon dating?

Jane Raffan : No. It's just that's more convenient. If you have that material, that would be acceptable once it has been scrutinized.

CHAIR: Do you have any idea of what the cost of the carbon dating would be?

Jane Raffan : I believe it is in the vicinity of a few hundred dollars, but I'm not sure.

Senator SINGH: Thank you, Ms Raffan and the AVAA for your submission and advocacy in adopting pretty much the UK's position. I could imagine that that was difficult to get to. What has been the nature of consultation between the association and the department in relation to the trade, if there has been any consultation?

Jane Raffan : Only via the interindustry forum that the IFAW organised, and subsequent to that we wanted to impress upon our members their obligations under CITES, and we disseminated the statutory declaration that the department provides. I believe they called it 'helpfully provides' this morning.

Senator SINGH: When were you made aware of that wildlife statutory declaration?

Jane Raffan : March 2017.

Senator SINGH: So through that industry forum?

Jane Raffan : Yes.

Senator SINGH: How is that wildlife statutory declaration used by the association?

Jane Raffan : We don't use it ourselves because we don't deal. We have passed it on via electronic communications to all our members and advised them of their obligations to entrust that to their clients who wish to sell ivory and pursue various protocols thereafter.

Senator SINGH: Okay. You talk about strict and limited exceptions for private sales to local and international museums and the like. That comes down to radiocarbon testing, which you were talking about with Mr Kelly. I think you talked about the limited accuracy of radiocarbon testing.

Jane Raffan : When you do a Galaxy poll or any other poll, there's a certain percentage of accuracy either side, and the same thing applies with radiocarbon dating. I think its maximum is 50 years either side, but it can vary depending on the method employed.

Senator SINGH: That's quite a lot, isn't it?

Jane Raffan : Yes.

Senator SINGH: But that's as good as it gets?

Jane Raffan : As far as I know, but I'm not sure. Mr Fava actually had a different percentage mentioned earlier.

Senator SINGH: We're hearing from those radiocarbon people in Canberra, so we can ask those questions.

Jane Raffan : Excellent. That will be clarified by the experts.

Senator SINGH: What is the AVAA's idea of watertight provenance?

Jane Raffan : That would be one—well, actually that's a dating mechanism. It's not actually provenance. Provenance is lineage through various levels of ownership and/or acquisition. You'd want to see something at every step of the way from, for example, the black rhino trophy that was taken in the 1800s—or so they say—through to the current buyer.

Senator SINGH: Now that you have this policy, does the AVAA play a kind of educative role with your members?

Jane Raffan : Yes. It's a position rather than a policy, so we haven't enacted any demands on our members, because this is all still a moot point. Pre-CITES ivory is legal to sell in Australia. So we will continue to inform our members of their obligations, but at the same time we've released our position. That will be released to members, and we will be encouraging people to adopt those principles and ethics in their own practices.

Senator SINGH: In relation to Leonard Joel's policy, do you share that with members? Obviously Australia is a big country from WA to Sydney and Melbourne.

Jane Raffan : After the International Fund for Animal Welfare's forum, we did share that. Joels have actually just released, in one of their latest reports, a specific protocol about how they deal with the statutory declaration and what that means for their client enactment and customer relationship. I'll be recommending to the board that we put that forward as best practice to our members as well.

Senator SINGH: What defines 'antique'?

Jane Raffan : Typically and traditionally, it's been 100 years. 'Vintage' is 50 years and so on and so forth. But it varies.

Senator SINGH: Why have you adopted a position that mirrors the UK ban particularly? Obviously there are other countries and states of the US.

Jane Raffan : The problem with the US is that it's state based, so the legislation varies state by state. It's not federal legislation, and with various governments and influences there's a bit of roll-back going on. The UK is the only English-speaking country with a ban in place that has gone through a rigorous formal submission process with public consultation. Because they're such a significant trader and have such a significant history with this material, it made a very big statement, and supporting it makes a statement.

Senator SINGH: So the idea is to have that national uniformity?

Jane Raffan : Yes, federal legislation.

Senator SINGH: Just getting back to the factor of determining the age, it seems to be a little bit of a grey area here.

Jane Raffan : Yes.

Senator SINGH: You've got the CITES treaty, which is now some 43 years old, which is a fairly long time ago. If you've got a deceased estate, for example, and someone has procured an item that is post CITES, how do you determine its age?

Jane Raffan : Well, they don't have to if they don't want to sell it.

Senator SINGH: If they want to sell it?

Jane Raffan : If they want to sell it then they have to go through and deal with the selling agent, and then it's up to the auction house and/or antique dealer. And we heard about 121 shops of those today, about what they advise.

Senator SINGH: I think there was only one that advised the correct answer.

Jane Raffan : Right. Exactly. The onus is really on the vendor, in any case, whether it's through the antique dealers or through the auction house, to satisfy any conditions that are put upon them, either by the auction house specifically with regard to CITES or dealers as well. So they could go about that. But if they're not going to go and get radiocarbon testing for a bone-handled—potentially, ivory-handled—knife, it's not worth it.

Senator SINGH: That's right.

Mr WOOD: Thanks very much for your evidence here today. This seems to me to be a change of position from the industry and something which is obviously—

Jane Raffan : I'm not speaking for the antiques industry; I'm speaking for the AVAA. The antiques industry have made their own submission, which is markedly different.

Mr WOOD: Okay. But even in your capacity with your association?

Jane Raffan : We didn't have a position before.

Mr WOOD: You didn't have a position?

Jane Raffan : No. It's a political issue, it's an important issue, and we felt that it was important to come to a decision at some point, and we've been working towards that.

Mr WOOD: Obviously with your evidence before you were getting emotional; I assume you were steering for this position? Was it personal?

Jane Raffan : Yes. When Joels took their stance it was well before the UK bill was in play, and it was pretty radical. Personally, I supported it, but no-one else on the board did, because of its radical nature. From there we just kept looking at what was happening.

Mr WOOD: I congratulate you. I can obviously see John behind you, making that decision. We had some evidence from IFAW this morning talking about certain issues, and one of their members went around the country. Did you hear that evidence?

Jane Raffan : Yes, I did.

Mr WOOD: Without repeating the evidence, I kind of look at the antiques game as like when you look at furniture—everything's had a few changes in it.

Jane Raffan : Marriages and furniture.

Mr WOOD: Everything was made in 1950. Is that the same when it comes to ivory?

Jane Raffan : There have been reports of marriages of certain pieces to get around CITES dates; for example, inserting a modern tusk onto silver hallmarked base which shows a much older date by the hallmarks on the silver. This is anecdotal, and I don't have proof, but that's certainly possible.

Mr WOOD: When it comes to the certification—I assume it wouldn't happen in Australia unless someone's fraudulently creating their own documents and not going through the government issuing certificates—are you hearing of certificates being fraudulently created by people trying to pass them off with industry as legitimate.

Jane Raffan : No, but for most of the items sold locally it doesn't apply because there's no regulation; it's only for export.

Mr WOOD: I understand that. If they're trying to export out of a country, they wouldn't require it anyway because it'd be only for the foreign country it's going into. When it comes to criminality, have you heard issues of that, or was this just more the moral issue of the concern of the extinction of the rhinos and elephants?

Jane Raffan : We haven't heard of any criminal activity with regard to items sold. We haven't seen any of that material come back onto the market, which is interesting. It's particularly interesting to me that people would buy trophy rhino horns. Most people that are interested in trophies want to kill the animals themselves. What happens to those horns thereafter we don't know.

Mr WOOD: Is the poaching the major concern you're hearing about through your industry? Is that the reason you've come to this decision as a board?

Jane Raffan : Correct.

Mr WOOD: So it's simply the evidence coming back?

Jane Raffan : The environmental crisis.

Mr WOOD: Supported or basically led by poaching?

Jane Raffan : Yes. Really it is an international concern and an international issue, and Australia has responsibilities in that regard even though the market here is very small. If you don't do something here, it's not necessarily that this then becomes a hotbed of criminal activity, but you are playing a game of whack-a-mole. You just don't know what's going to happen anywhere else.

Mr WOOD: Thank you for your evidence today. It was excellent.

Jane Raffan : Thank you.

CHAIR: The UK legislation talks about the exemptions being pre-1918 and also that the item has outstandingly high artistic, cultural or historic value.

Jane Raffan : Yes.

CHAIR: Isn't there a very grey area, especially when you're talking about what one person may think is high artistic value?

Jane Raffan : There are two different categories. There are the pre-1918 items that satisfy the 10 per cent de minimis ratio. They actually don't have to be of high artistic value. They are items that just have to have less than 10 per cent ivory and are older than 100 years.

CHAIR: That would be what? A walking stick with a handle?

Jane Raffan : Yes, you can have an ivory handle on an umbrella. There are a whole bunch of things. You can have doorknobs, furniture knobs, inlays in certain things and so on and so forth. The 'high artistic value' element relates to pieces that have more than the 10 per cent de minimis ratio or are wholly carved from ivory—a carving of the Madonna from 17th century Northern Europe, for example, or earlier. Yes, they will have to go through some sort of rigorous appraisal system that is not yet enunciated in the legislation.

CHAIR: If an item qualified under that appraisal situation—whoever determined what artistic value was and wasn't—and were able to obtain the certificate, would that significantly increase the value of those particular pieces?

Jane Raffan : Possibly. It would depend on the nature of the export application. A lot of these things might be just traded to museums, in which case they're taken out of circulation. It's really for the museum acquisition process.

CHAIR: But I'd imagine there'd also be high-end collectors that would collect such pieces that were, as you said, over 100 years old.

Jane Raffan : Yes.

CHAIR: With such legislation, you're reducing the supply of the pieces that actually could be traded. I'd imagine it would increase the value of those pieces.

Jane Raffan : That's a natural economic cycle that happens with anything. I would expect that that is possibly the case, but it all depends on the number of collectors available.

CHAIR: If you had such legislation brought into Australia, would you need some type of phase-in period, or would it be something you'd bring straight in?

Jane Raffan : These things take a long time from committee through to enacted legislation. It depends on the nature. The UK is pushing this through very quickly. They only came through with the results of their consultation process earlier this year but, because of the overwhelming positive response to it, they're pushing on.

CHAIR: Wouldn't you also, at the same time, have to change your legislation as far as CITES export and import of the pieces is concerned? If I were a collector here and all of a sudden I can't sell at an Australian auction house, I could export it.

Jane Raffan : Yes, it would require regulatory changes across the spectrum of governance.

CHAIR: Has that also been done in the UK that you're aware of?

Jane Raffan : No, because the legislation hasn't yet passed.

CHAIR: At the moment, I understand the regulations to import and export into and out of the UK are the same as we have here.

Jane Raffan : I believe that's the case. It's not my area of expertise.

CHAIR: Do you know if that's also being changed in the UK?

Jane Raffan : I believe all regulatory measures that pertain to the bill are outlined in the bill. I haven't specifically seen mention of CITES.

CHAIR: If the CITES agreement is still there—was it in 1975? If I went through a cupboard of my mother's or grandmother's antiques which I had been bequeathed and I found something, I might not be able to sent it to an auction house here in Australia, but I might be able to export it to an auction house overseas.

Jane Raffan : It depends. Even the antique dealers association in Australia have a 1947 limit on what they believe they're allowing to trade in ivory. Exceptions around CITES exist in all countries and within individual businesses as well. It's where you make your benchmark in relation to this.

CHAIR: And what about online sales—eBay and such?

Jane Raffan : What about them?

CHAIR: Is it possible that the trade would transfer away from auction houses to online sales?

Jane Raffan : No. You're not going to be selling very important works of art on eBay. We heard today from earlier submissions about how they're enacting their own screening for material to reduce any flow through those particular online businesses as well.

CHAIR: We have time for one more question. Senator Singh?

Senator SINGH: I wanted to ask you about enforcement of whatever laws we have and whether the association has some kind of peer support or peer pressure on some of those large auction houses that aren't members but aren't doing the right thing.

Jane Raffan : We will do our best.

Senator SINGH: There is one in particular in WA that I'm thinking of and that I know only a couple of months ago had items listed for sale on its website—large rhino horns and ivory tusks—and there was some exposure of this by IFAW and other citizens. Then those items were no longer for sale there. So obviously that's happening on an ad hoc basis when it's noticed and found. I just wondered whether things like that are happening collectively amongst your members when they're aware of some of these activities.

Jane Raffan : It tends to be a self-regulatory process. They get push-back from the citizenry, as we talked about today: NGOs and citizenry creating a bit of a fuss. Then they realise that the value of trading this material isn't as high or important to them as goodwill from the public, which is going to ensure a much greater flow of material to them. We will continue to emphasise our position to members, and that, of course, is also publicly available on our website. But we're not going to be policing non-members with regard to their sales.

Senator SINGH: Okay. So that doesn't happen at an industry level?

Jane Raffan : No. Sometimes you get argy-bargy between auction houses, as was the case with Joel's and Mossgreen, which is now defunct, over Joel's decision. That gets reported in the press, they'll get feedback and they may change their position on certain things, but there's no individual body that would push for policy agendas in that regard.

Senator SINGH: We know it's not happening at the government level. I'm particularly interested because this particular auction house in WA in April had for sale an anterior and posterior black rhino horn with an estimated price of $120,000 to $180,000. Who's buying that in Australia? That is a massive amount of money. It was taken down, but it was only after, as you said, the NGOs and citizenry being alerted to it. Nothing's happening at a state or federal government level.

Jane Raffan : No. There's no domestic legislation on it either, so no regulation.

Senator SINGH: Yes. That's why I wondered whether industry are doing a similar thing.

Jane Raffan : We can all guess at who's buying these things based on the information we've been provided by the NGOs about where these things are considered to be the most valuable. How they move or leave the country is undetermined if in fact that's the case. They're a wealth marker and a marker of esteem apart from the bogus medicinal properties. We would, however, like to see that, for example, at least the statutory declaration process is somehow regulated as an interim measure to be enforceable and mandatory for every item that currently fits within the legal framework of CITES, because at the moment it's not.

Senator SINGH: You opened by saying that fur coats once filled shop windows of fashion stores. Do you think times will change and we won't see these items?

Jane Raffan : Absolutely. The reason there are so many of these things sitting in antique stores is that half the time no-one wants to buy them. They sit there and they sit there. You go in and you see rows of silver-plated knives with ivory handles. There's the public revulsion, you can't put them in a dishwasher et cetera. Times change. People's thinking about the world changes. People don't like putting heavy brown furniture in their house anymore. There's a natural process going on with regard to this material and people's divorce from it; it's just not going on fast enough.

CHAIR: Thank you. We greatly appreciate your time and your evidence today.

Jane Raffan : My pleasure. Thank you for having me.