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Public hearings will be held in Alice Springs and Hermannsburg on Tuesday and Wednesday.
1 May 2018 - 11:21 AM  UPDATED 1 May 2018 - 12:36 PM

Hearings will be held across the Northern Territory this week into the fake Aboriginal art that is flooding the national market and robbing artists of an income.

The federal parliamentary committee set up to investigate Fake Aboriginal art was established by Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion and more than 140 submissions have been received since August last year.

One of the Top End's longest running Indigenous art centres has called for stronger laws to combat fake Indigenous art flooding the market.

In a written submission, Maningrida Art Centre said the current laws protecting Aboriginal art are inadequate and that fines should be imposed on people selling fake art.

"There are fake works widely available on e-bay, in souvenir type shops and other galleries," spokeswoman Michelle Culpitt said on Tuesdaay.

"Searching the internet for clap sticks, didjeridu or boomerang results in a plethora of non-authentic made artefacts."

The group called for better education to combat the problem and said the general public was not fully aware how disrespectful fake art can be.

"A widespread public advertising campaign that communicates the depth, breadth and meaning of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and beliefs would provide consumers with information to make better choices," Ms Culpitt said.

Among the calls for change is a proposal to amend Australian Consumer Law (ACL) to allow for a blanket ban on the import or sale of fake or inauthentic product, a label for products which would identify them as authentic or inauthentic, and making the Indigenous Art Code — considered the minimum standard if you're going to trade and buy ethically in the industry — mandatory for anyone who deals in Indigenous art, craft and merchandise. 

The law could protect artists when there has been a copyright infringement of their original work, but this relies on the individual taking action. When there has been a case of misleading, false or deceptive conduct, such as a boomerang made in China but purporting to be made locally, the consumer watchdog might step in. 

Earlier this month in hearings in Western Australia, the state's peak body for Aboriginal art centres called for laws making it illegal to sell fake Indigenous art as it was causing "significant damage" to Indigenous culture and communities.

With AAP

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