Perhaps missed in the Christmas rush was an announcement made by the Australian Attorney-General's Department / Ministry for the Arts (23 December 2014) that Australia's Protection of Movable Cultural Heritage Act (1986) will be reviewed in 2015. The final report is due by 30 September 2015. This Act was last reviewed in 2009. Click here to read the outcomes of the 2009 PMCH Act Review.
Click here to access the Act and its supporting Regulations (1987). These instruments are Australia's expression of the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, which Australia 'Accepted' in 1989 on the condition that it could not then require antique dealers to comply with Article 10 (documenting every sale).
An examination of the case history of this legislation was prepared by now Associate Professor Marett Leiboff as a doctoral thesis in 2005 and titled Reconstructing the Role of Cultural Significance in the Protection of Movable Cultural Heritage Act Cth (1986). It is very interesting and worthwhile background reading. It covers the incompatibility of legal and museological definitions of significance as evidenced in court and tribunal rulings, and demonstrates art exceptionalism. Professor Leiboff contributed usefully to the 2009 Review of the PMCH Act and was appointed to the National Cultural Heritage Committee late last year. Click here to read the media release about her appointment as part of a new cohort.
Mr Shane Simpson AO, experienced cultural lawyer, is to lead the 2015 review. Mr Simpson authored Collections Law: Legal Issues for Australian Archives, Galleries, Libraries and Museums (2009, 2nd edition), initiated by the Collections Council of Australia.
A stakeholder Consultation Plan is currently being developed. Let's hope it's public and inclusive. Keep an eye on the department's News Archive webpage for the consultation launch: http://arts.gov.au/news
Click here to read the official webpage about the 2015 Review of the PMCH Act.