A Private Members bill has been introduced to Federal Parliament entitled Competition and Consumer Amendment (Exploitation of Indigenous Culture) Bill 2017 (Bill).

The purpose of the Bill is to prevent non-Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders and foreigners benefitting from the sale of Indigenous art, souvenir items and other cultural items and thereby depriving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders of the rightful benefits of their culture.

The Bill will make a series of amendments to the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth).

The amendments will prevent a person from supplying anything to a consumer which includes an “Indigenous cultural expression”, unless the item is made in Australia and with the consent of the Indigenous community and artist associated with the “Indigenous cultural expression”.

The scope of “Indigenous cultural expression” is broad and includes an expression of Indigenous culture that:

  • has archaeological, anthropological, contemporary, historical, scientific, social or spiritual significance to an Indigenous community;
  • has its origins in an Indigenous community;
  • is made by an Indigenous artist; or
  • is derived from, or has a likeness or resemblance to, one or more Indigenous cultural expressions mentioned above.

In order to monitor compliance, the Bill proposes that a committee be established, which is “representative of Indigenous communities”.

The Bill was introduced by Independent Member Hon. Bob Katter MP and seconded by Rebekha Sharkie MP in order to prevent an influx of mass-produced Indigenous-style artwork, souvenirs and other cultural items being imported from overseas.

The Bill is in its early stages and is yet to be debated by Parliament.