Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, 2009
Legislation annual reports 2008-09 (continued)
Operation of the Protection of Movable Cultural Heritage Act 1986
The Protection of Movable Cultural Heritage Act 1986 (PMCH Act) commenced operation on 1 July 1987, to give effect to the 1970 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property.
The PMCH Act protects Australia's heritage of movable cultural objects and supports the protection by foreign countries of their heritage of movable cultural objects.
This annual report is prepared in accordance with section 47 of the PMCH Act and covers the operation of the Act from 1 July 2008 to 30 June 2009.
The PMCH Act regulates the export of cultural heritage objects from Australia. It protects objects which, if exported, would significantly diminish Australia's cultural heritage.
The PMCH Act includes provisions that allow Australia to respond to an official request by a foreign government, to return objects that have been illegally exported in contravention of that country's cultural heritage laws.
The Protection of Movable Cultural Heritage Regulations 1987, set out the National Cultural Heritage Control List of objects covered by the legislation, which currently includes:
- Indigenous art and artefacts
- works of fine or decorative art
- scientific and archaeological artefacts
- fossils, meteorites and minerals
- agricultural and industrial heritage
- books, stamps and medals, and
- historic materials.
If an object meets the criteria for the National Cultural Heritage Control List, it is considered an Australian protected object and therefore requires a permit before export. Some Australian protected objects of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage, military heritage and historical significance, may not be granted a permit to export. Other objects may be exported provided a permit or certificate has been obtained. Heritage objects located overseas may also be defined as Australian protected objects, and a certificate of exemption may be issued for such an object to enter Australia and return overseas without restriction.
Permits are granted by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts, on the advice of the National Cultural Heritage Committee and expert examiners.
The National Cultural Heritage Control List sets out the categories of objects classed as Australian protected objects. The criteria (which define the categories) include: historical association; cultural significance to Australia; representation in an Australian public collection; age and financial thresholds. The control list includes Class A and Class B objects.
Class A objects are significant Australian heritage objects that cannot normally be exported from Australia. They include:
- some of the most significant items of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage: bark and log coffins, human remains, rock art, dendroglyphs (carved burial and initiation trees), and sacred and secret ritual objects
- Victoria Crosses awarded to Australian recipients, and
- objects comprising the suit of armour worn by Ned Kelly, at the event known as the siege of Glenrowan in 1880.
If a Class A object is not in Australia and a person wishes to temporarily import it, the minister may grant a certificate authorising its subsequent export.
Class B objects that may be exported subject to a permit, include:
- archaeological objects
- objects of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage, not covered under Class A
- natural science objects
- objects of applied science or technology
- objects of fine or decorative art
- objects of documentary heritage
- numismatic objects and medals, not covered under Class A
- philatelic objects, and
- objects of historical significance, not covered under Class A.
The National Cultural Heritage Account is established by section 25 of the PMCH Act and is a Special Account for the purposes of the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997. Its purpose is to facilitate the acquisition of Australian protected objects for display or safekeeping.
Funding of $500,000 was allocated in 2008-09, to maintain the National Cultural Heritage Account.
This year, the following Australian cultural organisations have received funding from the Account, the:
- Australian National Maritime Museum, to acquire the Charlotte Medal
- Art Gallery of South Australia, to acquire the painting: Adelaide Hunt Club Cup 1870, and
- Powerhouse Museum, to acquire the Bruno Benini Photography Archive.
The Charlotte Medal, 1788, by Thomas Barrett. Two photos - one is a front view and one a back view of the medal.
Photo: Andrew Frolows, 2008, courtesy Australian National Maritime Museum
Review of the Act's Regulations and administration
A review of the PMCH Act and its Regulations, commenced in January 2009. The objectives of the review include: an examination of the operation of the legislation; the extent to which the objectives of the legislation have been achieved; the appropriateness of the current arrangements and categories under the National Cultural Heritage Control List; the operation of the National Cultural Heritage Account and the effectiveness of the current permit system.
The review commenced with the release of a Discussion Paper and a public consultation phase. Submissions on the Act's effectiveness and ways to improve its administration were invited from stakeholders.
The review is due for completion in the latter half of 2009.
National Cultural Heritage Committee
The National Cultural Heritage Committee is appointed under the PMCH Act to advise the minister on the operation of the Act, the National Cultural Heritage Control List, and the National Cultural Heritage Account. Members serve terms of up to four years and are eligible for reappointment.
The Committee held two face-to-face meetings (4 December 2008 and 18 June 2009) and three teleconferences (15 September 2008, 24 October 2008 and 4 May 2009) to consider applications for export permits and for funding from the National Cultural Heritage Account. Committee business was also conducted out of session, including the consideration of export applications and funding applications, and advice to the minister on the significance of collections under the Act.
Register of Expert Examiners
The Register of Expert Examiners was maintained by the Committee in accordance with section 22 of the PMCH Act. The National Cultural Heritage Committee regularly invites individuals with appropriate expertise to be included on the register to broaden the expert advice available to the Committee.
The expert examiners give the benefit of their wide experience and practical support throughout the year. Their specialist knowledge and advice, in preparing reports for consideration by the Committee and the minister, are vital in protecting Australia's significant movable cultural heritage; as is the specialist advice they provide to the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service and the Australian Federal Police.
|Member||Date/term of appointment|
|Chair: Mr Craddock Morton, Director, National Museum of Australia||Appointed 9 March 2006 for 4 years|
|Professor Daryl Le Grew, Vice Chancellor, University of Tasmania||Appointed 27 March 2006 for 4 years|
|Mr Simon Molesworth AM QC, barrister-at-law, Victoria||Re-appointed 25 May 2006 for 4 years|
|Ms Kylie Winkworth, museum and heritage consultant, NSW||Re-appointed 31 July 2006 for 4 years|
|Ms Avril Quaill, Principal Project Officer, Queensland Indigenous Arts Marketing and Export Agency||Re-appointed 31 July 2006 for 4 years|
|Ms Anne-Marie Schwirtlich, CEO and State Librarian, State Library of Victoria||Appointed 9 May 2007 for 4 years|
|Mr Christopher Menz, Director Art Gallery of South Australia||Appointed 30 September 2007 for 4 years|
|Ms Deborah Tranter, Deputy Director, Cobb and Co Museum, Queensland||Appointed 12 July 2004 for 4 years|
|Ms Jennifer Sanders, Associate Director, Powerhouse Museum, Sydney||Re-appointed 12 July 2004 for 4 years|
|Dr Suzanne Miller, Director South Australian Museum||Appointed 22 July 2008 for 3 years, till 30 September 2011|
|Dr Ian Galloway, CEO Queensland Museum||Appointed 16 September 2008 for 3 years till 30 September 2011|
|Mr Phillip Gordon, Collections Coordinator Anthropology, Australian Museum||Appointed 16 September 2008 for 3 years till 30 September 2011|
The department continued to work closely with the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, to ensure the enforcement of, and compliance with, the PMCH Act. The department responded to 45 enquiries on a diverse range of objects being exported and imported, including heritage machinery, fossils and antiquities.
Objects illegally exported from another country in contravention of the cultural heritage laws of that country, and imported into Australia, may be subject to seizure and forfeiture to the Commonwealth, for return to the requesting government. The department continued to work with Interpol to ensure the enforcement of, and compliance, with the Act. The department received three Interpol alerts and submitted three information reports.
During 2008-09, the department initiated a review on the compliance and enforcement provisions of the Act. The department consulted widely and accepted public submissions on the provisions. Recommendations are currently being drafted to advise the minister.
Export permit applications
A total of 116 export permit applications were finalised, which included the assessment of 3287 objects (including 70 for letters of clearance). A summary of export applications processed in 2008-09, is at Appendix 1. The objects that were issued permanent and temporary export permits and certificates of exemption, are described at Appendix 2.
Permits for permanent export
Eleven permits were issued, to permanently export 12 Australian protected objects.
Permits for temporary export
Ten permits were issued to allow the temporary export of 13 Australian protected objects, for exhibition or assessment.
Letters of clearance
Letters of clearance may be issued for objects that have been assessed by expert examiners as not being Australian protected objects, and therefore do not require an export permit under the PMCH Act. The letters are usually issued by the department to assist with the clearance of these objects through Customs.
A total of 70 letters of clearance were issued covering 3198 objects.
Refusal of export permits
Four objects were refused an export permit.
Five applications were withdrawn.
Certificates of exemption
Certificates of exemption allow Australian protected objects that are currently overseas, to be imported into Australia and subsequently re-exported. Owners of Australian protected objects located overseas, are encouraged to repatriate them to Australia for display or sale. Objects imported for exhibition allow the Australian public access to elements of their cultural heritage that would otherwise be unavailable.
Sixteen certificates of exemption, covering 55 objects, were issued.
|Export applications||Number of applications||Number of objects|
|Applications received during 2008-09||134||3249|
|Applications finalised during 2008-09||116||3287|
|Applications carried over as at 30 June 2009||26||27|
|Outcomes of applications finalised||Number of outcomes||Number of objects|
|Permanent export permits issued||11||12|
|Temporary export permits issued||10||13|
|Conditional permits issued||Nil||Nil|
|Letters of clearance issued||70||3198|
|Certificates of exemption issued||16||55|
|Permanent export permits - description||Finalised|
|1924 Aveling & Porter Steam Roller||24/07/2008|
|Painting c1947 Unknown (Aboriginal) Artist||22/09/2008|
|Tractor, HANOMAG c1938||25/09/2008|
|Paintings, 'L'entre d'une Fjord, Brittany' and 'La Mer a la Spezia' by J P Russell||01/12/2008|
|Painting 'Kelly in Bush' by Sidney Nolan||02/01/2009|
|1942 Chevrolet Military Truck||10/02/2009|
|1902-1904 Garrett Steam Traction Engine||05/03/2009|
|Aboriginal Shield, 19th century||05/03/2009|
|Deutz 3 Cylinder Water Cooled Tractor||17/04/2009|
|Painting 'Riverbank' 1964 by Sidney Nolan||17/04/2009|
|Avance Tractor Wreck||17/04/2009|
|Temporary export permits - description||Finalised|
|Philatelic Exhibit - the Postal History of New South Wales 1810-1849||16/10/2009|
|Philatelic Collection - Australian Air Mails 1914-1934||30/10/2008|
|Philatelic Collection - the Stamp Booklets of Australia 1904-1934||30/10/2008|
|Motor Vehicle Bolwell Mark VII||30/10/2008|
|Elfin Racing Car||14/11/2008|
|Dress worn by Judith Anderson, 1952||09/02/2009|
|1941 Ford Utility||10/02/2009|
|Three Historic Philatelic Collections||04/05/2009|
|Klemm L25 d2 Aeroplane||07/05/2009|
|Comper Swift Aeroplane||07/05/2009|
|Certificates of exemption - description||Finalised|
|Aboriginal Art Objects||04/07/2008|
|Painting 'Water Dreaming' 1972 Old Walter Tjampitjinpa||14/07/2008|
|Painting 'Wild Orange Dreaming' 1971 by Kaapa Tjampitjinpa||14/07/2009|
|Drawings and Paintings by Papunya Artists, 1971, Painting 'Bush Tucker Dreaming 1971 by Timmy Payungka Tjapangati, Drawings Untitled by Uta Uta Tjangala 1971, Drawings Untitled by Anatjari No.111 Tjakamarra.||18/07/2008|
|Painting, Rainmaker Bird Ceremony 1972 by Tim Leura Tjapaltjarri||14/08/2008|
|Painting, 'Aboriginal Artist' 1986 by Robert Campbell Jnr||13/10/2008|
|Painting, 'Father/Son/Grandfather' c1978 by Tim Leura Tjapaltjarri||13/10/2008|
|Drawing of Ben-nel-long by Port Jackson Painter, 1790 to 1797||20/10/2008|
|Aboriginal Bowls and Queensland Shield||20/10/2008|
|Bark Painting, c1960s||19/12/2008|
|NSW Postal History to 1850||18/02/2009|
|Painting by Albert Namatjira, c1957||18/02/2009|
|Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri Painting||05/05/2009|
|Tim Leura Tjapaltjarri Painting||05/05/2009|
|Charlie Tararu Tjungurrayi Painting||15/05/2009|
|Painting Dr Forster & Mr Forster by Jean Francois Rigaud, c1780||28/05/2009|
In March 2009, the department signed a memorandum of understanding with its counterpart administration in the Republic of Korea, the Cultural Heritage Administration. This non-binding agreement provides a framework for bilateral cultural cooperation between the two departments, including: possible opportunities for exhibitions; personnel exchanges; and information sharing on laws, policies and procedures that protect Australian and Korean cultural objects and intangible cultural heritage.
One Freedom of Information request was finalised in 2008-09. No new requests were received.
Section 48 of the PMCH Act provides that certain decisions of the minister may be reviewed by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT).
During 2008-09, no decisions were reviewed by the AAT and one application for review was received.
Further information on the PMCH Act is available at www.arts.gov.au/movable_heritage
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