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Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

22 November 2006

Chinese fossil gift for Western Australian Museum


The Australian Government has enhanced the collection of the Western Australian Museum with a gift of four Chinese fossils, presented by the People’s Republic of China. The Chinese fossils were part of a massive haul of fossils seized by Australian authorities after an illegal attempt to import them into Australia.

Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, officially gifted the fossils to Western Australian Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Tourism, Culture and the Arts, Ms Sheila McHale, who accepted them on behalf of the Western Australian Museum.

“The four fossils were originally part of a group of 10,000 Chinese fossil specimens illegally exported from China and imported into Australia and seized under the Protection of Movable Cultural Heritage Act 1986,” Senator Campbell said.

The fossils were given to the Australian Government by the Chinese Government in appreciation of assistance with the seizure and repatriation of the 10,000 fossil pieces, which occurred on 30 September 2005.

“The Western Australia Museum provided significant support to the Department of the Environment and Heritage, the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Customs Service in the seizure and identification of the fossils. I’m extremely pleased to present the four fossils as a gift to the Museum for their safe keeping and display to the Australian public,” Senator Campbell said.

Senator Campbell said the Australian Government recognised the importance of retaining culturally important items. “The Australian Government is committed to playing a key role in deterring the international illegal trade in artifacts and fossils that can harm nations’ links to heritage.

“We can all play our part in helping to protect the world’s cultural heritage objects. Australia’s actions to help China and other countries demonstrates our commitment to our obligations under the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the illicit import and export of cultural property,” Senator Campbell said.

The four fossils, which include reptile skeletons and dinosaur eggs, are excellent examples of the Chinese fossils from the middle Triassic to late Cretaceous periods (80 – 230 million years ago). The fossils will be on display in the WA Museum’s Diamonds to Dinosaurs gallery and the display will acknowledge the donation from the Australian Government and the gift from the People’s Republic of China.

Further information is available at www.deh.gov.au/heritage/movable/index.html

Media contact:
Rob Broadfield 02 6277 7640 or 0409 493 902

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