Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, 2010
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 significant 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 2009 to 30 June 2010.
- 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 include:
- 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
- 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 Environment Protection, Heritage and the Arts on the advice of the National Cultural Heritage Committee and expert examiners.
National Cultural Heritage Control List
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
- 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 by 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 by Class A
- philatelic objects
- objects of historical significance not covered by Class A.
National Cultural Heritage Account
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 2009-10, to maintain the National Cultural Heritage Account.
This year, the following significant Australian objects have been acquired with assistance from the Account:
- Durack Family Papers collection, State Library of Western Australia.
- Three Omai Relics from the Tobias Furneaux Collection, Australian National Maritime Museum.
- An 1885 blackwood table with inlaid mosaic, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.
- Two 19th century Indigenous Shields, National Gallery of Victoria.
Newly acquired Omai relics.
Photo: Australian National Maritime Museum
Left: Table top with central micro-mosaic panel, crafted in Italy, probably Rome c 1845.
Right: Alternate view of table showing Tasmanian-made blackwood base: attributed to James Whitesides 1857.
Photos: Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery
The department continued to work closely with the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBP), to ensure the enforcement of, and compliance with, the PMCH Act. A series of current awareness sessions were undertaken with the ACBP in Perth. The department responded to 50 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, in response to a request from the New Zealand Government, seized and returned a feeding funnel carved by James Edward Little. Further details on the return of this item are provided under the case studies section in the 'Outcome 5' chapter.
Section 48 of the PMCH Act provides that certain decisions of the minister may be reviewed by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT).
During 2009-10, the AAT received one application for review of a decision. This application was withdrawn by the applicant.
Export permit applications
A summary of export applications processed in 2009-10 is at Appendix 1. The objects that were issued with permanent and temporary export permits and certificates of exemption are described at Appendix 2.
No objects were refused a permit.
|Export applications||Number of applications||Number of objects|
|Applications received during 2009-10||117||212|
|Applications finalised during 2009-10||98||165|
|Applications active at 30 June 2010||34||34|
|Outcomes of applications finalised||Number of outcomes||Number of objects|
|Permanent export permits issued||21||21|
|Temporary export permits issued||2||2|
|Applications finalised - no permit required||46||59|
|Certificates of exemption issued||21||74|
|Permanent export permits - description||Finalised|
|Argyll Model Flying Fifteen, c1909||14/05/2010|
|Tangye, stationary engine, c1900||16/07/2009|
|A collection of palaeontological samples (stromatolites) from WA||30/07/2009|
|Lanz Bulldog Tractor 50hp serial No 649032, c1951||23/12/2009|
|Lanz Bulldog Tractor 48hp serial No 649443, c1951||23/12/2009|
|Lanz Bulldog Tractor 45hp serial No 647109, c1950||23/12/2009|
|Lanz 'N' Tractor Wreck & parts 35hp serial No 645302, c1949||23/12/2009|
|Fordson Major County tractor, Type SF Serial No 14296||23/12/2009|
|Carving - Cheeky Snake by Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri||30/04/2010|
|Painting by Willy Tjungurrayi||30/04/2010|
|70 HP Field Marshall serial No 6700003||14/05/2010|
|Painting of Nude Carrying Ram by Arthur Boyd, c1962||6/07/2009|
|Aboriginal sculpture by unknown artist, c1960||6/07/2009|
|Bark painting by Mungatopi, c1967||11/09/2009|
|Bark painting by Yirawala, c1970||11/09/2009|
|Bark painting by Yirawala, c1970s||6/10/2009|
|Bark painting by Mungatopi, c1966||6/10/2009|
|13.20 carat polished diamond||8/12/2009|
|Painting - Yarla Jukurrpa (Wild Yam Dreaming)||10/03/2010|
|Massey Harris 745 Tractor||21/04/2010|
|Massey Harris 744 Tractor||21/04/2010|
|Temporary export permits - description||Finalised|
|Stamps - Postal History of NSW||7/07/2009|
|Elfin Race Car Vehicle No. 5.71.02 & model No. 360||27/10/2009|
|Certificates of exemption - description||Finalised|
|Queensland Rainforest Shield, c1900-1910||15/01/2010|
|Narrow shield from South East Australia carved in hardwood||14/09/2009|
|Victorian broad shield carved in hardwood||14/09/2009|
|Janus figure by Mickey Aruni Illortamini, early 1970s||11/09/2009|
|Carved figure by Mani-Luki Wommatakimmi, early 1970s||11/09/2009|
|A Pukumani pole carved in hardwood, early 1970s||11/09/2009|
|Series of 17 paintings by Nandjiwarra Amagula||30/09/2009|
|5 Paintings of Son's Marriage by Balir Balir||30/09/2009|
|20 single Indigenous paintings by various artists||30/09/2009|
|Aboriginal Spear Thrower, from the late 19th century||2/02/2010|
|Painting by Narritjin Maymuru, c1960-1970s||11/03/2010|
|Painting by Peter Maralwanga, c1960-1970s||11/03/2010|
|Painting by Dick Nquleingulei Marramurra, c1960-1970s||11/03/2010|
|Painting in water colour by Albert Namatjira, c1951||22/04/2010|
|First Fleet letter written by Newton Fowell, c1787||4/05/2010|
|15 single Indigenous paintings by various artists||19/03/2010|
|Painting by Albert Namatjira, c1955||19/03/2010|
|Painting by Johnny Warangkula Tjupurrula, c1978||15/02/2010|
|Painting by Anatjari Tjakamarra, c1973||21/12/2009|
|Painting 'Untitled' by Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri||21/12/2009|
|Drawing in charcoal by William Barak||15/07/2009|
A review of the PMCH Act and its Regulations commenced in January 2009 and was completed in December 2009. The objectives of the review included: 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.
A report on the outcomes of the review is available at www.arts.gov.au/public_consultation/submissions-closed/pmch-review
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. Membership of the National Cultural Heritage Committee in 2009-10 is shown in Table 1.
Register of Expert Examiners
The Register of Expert Examiners was maintained by the Committee in accordance with section 22 of the PMCH Act. 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||Term of appointment|
|Chair: Mr Craddock Morton,
Director, National Museum of Australia
|Appointed 09/03/06 to 09/03/10|
|Professor Daryl Le Grew,
Vice Chancellor University of Tasmania
|Appointed 27/03/06 to 27/03/10
Re-appointed 06/05/10 to 31/12/10
|Mr Simon Molesworth AM QC,
|Re-appointed 25/05/06 to 15/05/10|
|Ms Kylie Winkworth,
Museum and heritage consultant, NSW
|Re-appointed 31/07/06 to 30/07/10|
|Ms Avril Quaill,
Principal Project Officer, Queensland Indigenous Arts Marketing and Export Agency
|Re-appointed 31/07/06 to 08/10/10|
|Ms Anne-Marie Schwirtlich,
CEO and State Librarian, State Library of Victoria
|Appointed 09/05/07 to 08/05/11|
|Mr Christopher Menz,
Director Art Gallery of South Australia
|Appointed 30/09/07 to 09/03/10|
|Dr Suzanne Miller,
Director South Australian Museum
|Appointed 22/07/08 to 30/09/11|
|Dr Ian Galloway,
CEO Queensland Museum
|Appointed 16/09/08 to 30/09/11|
|Mr Phillip Gordon,
Collections Coordinator Anthropology, Australian Museum
|Appointed 16/09/08 to 30/09/11|
|Chair: Dr Darryl McIntyre,
CEO, National Film and Sound Archive
|Appointed 06/05/10 to 30/06/13|
|Professor Kenneth Polk,
Professor of Criminology, University of Melbourne
|Appointed 15/05/10 to 15/05/13|
|Dr Patrick Greene,
CEO, Museum Victoria
|Appointed 06/05/10 to 30/06/13|
In October 2009, the department signed a memorandum of understanding on the protection of cultural property with the State Administration of Cultural Heritage (SACH) of the People's Republic of China. This arrangement strengthens ties between the department and SACH by enabling enhanced cooperation to protect Chinese and Australian cultural objects and to combat the theft, clandestine excavation and illicit import and export of cultural property. Cooperation activities may include the exchange of information, personnel and expertise between the two agencies or between their affiliated cultural institutions.
Further information on the PMCH Act is available at www.arts.gov.au/movable_heritage
- Letter of transmittal
- Executive summary
- Outcome 1 - Conserving our natural assets
- Outcome 2 - Living and working sustainably
- Operation of the Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1989
- Operation of the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989
- Operation of the product stewardship arrangements for oil including the Product Stewardship (Oil) Act 2000
- Operation of the Fuel Quality Standards Act 2000
- Outcome 3 - Protecting Antarctica
- Outcome 4 - Adapting to a future with less water
- Outcome 5 - Protecting and enhancing Australia's culture and heritage
- Corporate Outcome - Improving organisational effectiveness
- Financial statements
- List of requirements