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Fossils for the future.

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Fossils for the future

Senator the Hon Amanda Vanstone Minister for Justice and Customs

The Hon Peter McGauran

Minister for the Arts and the Centenary of Federation

Priceless fossils from the Flinders Ranges, Coober Pedy and Kangaroo Island were today returned to the South Australian Museum by the Federal Minister for the Arts, Peter McGauran and the Federal Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Amanda Vanstone.

Some of the fossils were seized at Perth International Airport while they were being illegally exported from the country, other fossils were seized from a private house, and some have been returned from overseas.

'An Australian Federal Police (AFP) investigation resulted in the first conviction under the Protection of Movable Cultural Heritage (PMCH) Act,' Federal Minister for the Arts, Peter McGauran said.

'The PMCH Act prevents significant cultural heritage objects, such as the fossils, from being illegally exported from Australia,' he said.

'The seizure again highlights the range of tasks entrusted to the AFP under a wide range of Commonwealth laws and their diligence at enforcing them,' Senator Vanstone said.

'The thoroughness of the AFP's investigation should serve as a deterrent to would be smugglers,' she said.

Three groups of fossils were returned at the ceremony in the South Australian Museum's Pacific Gallery today:

· Ediacaran fossils from the Flinders Ranges, which are of international importance because of their age; · trilobites from Kangaroo Island, spectacularly preserved in pink calcite on grey shale; and

· opalised fossils from Coober Pedy which are exceptionally preserved crinoids.

'All of these fossils contain the stories of our past, and are a crucial part of our cultural heritage-it is vital that we keep them here where we can continue to learn their secrets.

'They will now be cared for well into the future at their new home-the South Australian Museum,' Mr McGauran said.

Media contact: Jane McCarthy, Minister McGauran's Office (02) 6277 7350 Website: Andrew Kirk, Senator Vanstone's Office (08) 8223 1757 Website: 25 August 2000

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