Publications archive

Department of the Environment and Heritage annual report 2004-05

Volume two
Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2005
ISSN 1441 9335

Legislation annual reports 2004-05 (continued)

Operation of the Protection of Movable Cultural Heritage Act 1986

This annual report is prepared in accordance with section 47 of the Protection of Movable Cultural Heritage Act 1986 and covers the operation of the Act from 1 July 2004 to 30 June 2005.

Purpose of the Act

The Act regulates the export of cultural heritage objects from Australia. The purpose of the Act is to protect, for the benefit of the nation, objects which if exported would significantly diminish Australia’s cultural heritage. The Act also 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 their cultural heritage laws.

The Act defines certain heritage objects as ‘Australian protected objects’ and implements a system of export control. Some Australian protected objects of Aboriginal, military heritage and historical significance cannot be granted a permit for export. Other Australian protected objects may be exported provided a permit or certificate has been obtained. Permits are granted by the responsible minister, on the advice of the National Cultural Heritage Committee and expert examiners. Heritage objects located overseas may also be defined as Australian protected objects under the Act, and a Certificate of Exemption may be issued for such an Australian protected object to enter Australia and return overseas without restriction.

National Cultural Heritage Control List

The National Cultural Heritage Control List sets out the categories of objects classed as Australian protected objects and the criteria defining each of these categories. These criteria 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 can only be exported where they have previously been imported under a Certificate of Exemption, and include:

Review of the Protection of Movable Cultural Heritage Act 1986, Regulations and administration

The review identified a range of issues which have required further analysis. Consultation with many of the key stakeholders has been undertaken, including the Australian Customs Service and the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Advice from the Australian Government Solicitor and the Director of Public Prosecutions is under consideration and broader consultation is expected to be conducted in 2005 - 06.


The department continues to work closely with the Australian Federal Police and Australian Customs Service to ensure the enforcement of, and compliance with, the Act. Inquiries were undertaken in respect of a wide range of objects being exported and imported including heritage machinery, fossils and antiquities. The department also assisted members of the public and businesses with inquiries about export permit requirements.

Illegal exports

Two engines mentioned in the 2003 - 04 annual report, a 1908 Marshall Road Locomotive and a 1921 Fowler Stump Puller, became forfeit to the Commonwealth after action against it in the Supreme Court of Queensland was dismissed. The suitable disposition of the engines is now under consideration.

Illegal imports

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 liaised with a number of foreign governments on cases involving objects such as aircraft relics, decorated human skulls, ancient Greek coins and Egyptian artefacts.

In 2003 the People’s Republic of China requested Australia’s assistance in the return of illegally exported Chinese fossils. In 2004 fossils including dinosaur eggs, fish and mammals (above), were seized in response to this Chinese request. The department also received a request from Argentina about illegally exported fossils and some Argentine fossils were seized as a result.

Other investigations are ongoing.

National Cultural Heritage Account

The National Cultural Heritage Account was established under section 25 of the Protection of Movable Cultural Heritage Amendment Act 1999 and in accordance with the regulatory requirements of the Commonwealth Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997. Its purpose is to facilitate the acquisition of Australian protected objects for display or safekeeping.

A total of $185 000 was allocated at Additional Estimates to the account in 2004 - 05 and the account will be maintained at a level of $0.5 million through annual top-ups as necessary.

Six applications were considered during 2004 - 05. The minister approved $150 000 for the National Museum of Australia in Canberra to acquire the Holden Prototype Car No. 1, 1946. Five applications are still being processed.

The Australian Sugar Museum also received funding of $32 000 in 2004 - 05 for a c. 1911 Colonial Marshall Class C Oil Tractor.

Export permit applications

A total of 1679 objects were assessed under 149 applications (including 15 requests for letters of clearance) during 2004 - 05. A statistical summary of all applications processed in 2004 - 05 is at Appendix 1. The objects included in the applications are listed at Appendix 2.

There were 19 applications covering 42 objects under consideration at 1 July 2004 and 23 applications covering 46 objects under consideration at 30 June 2005.

Permits for permanent export (including conditional permits)

Eighteen permits (including one conditional permit) were issued to export permanently 27 cultural heritage objects. In general, the exporters were seeking to either sell the objects on the international market or to exchange the objects with overseas collectors.

Permits for temporary export

Thirteen permits were issued to allow the temporary export of 72 Australian protected objects for exhibition or assessment purposes. Objects included:

Letters of Clearance

A total of 69 Letters of Clearance were issued covering 1 485 objects. Of the total, 54 letters covering 105 objects resulted from applications for export permits where the objects were found not to meet the Control List criteria and the Act did not apply to them. In addition, 15 letters covering 1 380 objects were issued as a result of discussions with prospective applicants prior to the lodgement of a formal application, where it became evident that the objects would not meet the Control List criteria.

Applicants may obtain a preliminary assessment of certain natural science objects. Expert examiners have indicated that the vast majority of these applications relate to material that is of little or no scientific or cultural significance, or to material that is adequately represented in public collections by objects of equivalent quality. In such cases a Letter of Clearance allowing its export is issued by the expert examiner.

In cases where the object is assessed as being of high scientific or cultural significance and not adequately represented in public collections, it is subject to the full assessment process, including consideration by the National Cultural Heritage Committee.

Applications withdrawn

Six applications were withdrawn in the year under review.

Certificates of Exemption

Fifteen Certificates of Exemption covering 38 objects were issued during the year. Certificates of Exemption allow Australian protected objects that are currently overseas to be imported into Australia and subsequently re-exported. Owners of Australian protected objects located overseas are encouraged to repatriate them to Australia for display or sale. Objects imported for exhibition allow the Australian public access to elements of their cultural heritage that would otherwise be unavailable. Objects returned for sale provide opportunities for Australian residents to purchase and return these objects to the Australian domain. A certificate provides owners with security that their objects can be re-exported on completion of the exhibition or if they are not sold to an Australian resident.

As an example, during 2004 - 05 Certificates of Exemption were issued for:

Refusal of export permits

Five objects were refused an export permit during 2004 - 05. These were:

Object Date of decision

An 1884 Fowler Steam Traction Engine Works No. 4841.

This traction engine is the oldest surviving six nominal horsepower compound Fowler two-speed traction engine in Australia. This type of traction engine was one of the first to be employed in the Victorian forestry and road transport industries from around 1880 to the 1940s. Throughout this period steam road locomotives represented the supreme form of motive power available to Australian industry and this engine has the potential to contribute to a wider understanding of the use of steam power in Australia.

The provenance of this engine is well established with the Nicholas family of Echuca from 1884 until 1962 and adds to the significance of the engine. This is believed to be the best preserved (unrestored) pre-1890 Fowler traction engine of any type in Australia. No other examples of this type of traction engine are in any Australian public collection.


A 1937 Lockheed 10A Electra aircraft, registration number VH-UZO.

This is the original aircraft used by Ansett in 1937 to start its fledgling commercial operations. It is the only identified surviving pre-WWII Ansett machine and, as such, represents the commencement of an Australian aviation icon.

It has a significant association with Australia's defence during World War II. In 1942 it entered military service, eventually being used in the evacuation of Darwin and Broome following the Japanese attacks. The aircraft was brought to Australia at a time of significant expansion in passenger services. The machine is a significant milestone in making air travel safer, faster and more accessible for Australians.


A 1920 Foden Steam Wagon, Works No. 9734.

This steam wagon is one of only five known surviving Foden steam wagons in Australia, none of which are in public collections.

Foden steam wagons were one of the most popular makes of steam wagon used in Australia and this wagon is the archetypal version of an 'overtype' configuration in which the engine sat over the boiler. This configuration became synonymous with the name Foden. Later steam wagons adopted the 'undertype' configuration. The vehicle is a good representative example of the type and affords a valuable reference which can inform future generations about the standard of technology and road transport of the period. The wagon is structurally authentic. The original wheels are still with the owner and refitting the wheels would add to the vehicle's authenticity.

The wagon illustrates the period of automotive transition from animal power (horses/bullocks) to the internal combustion engine. As a form of automotive power, the steam wagon is important to the development of road transportation in Australia as it allowed haulage of much heavier loads than could be horse-drawn. Because of this, these engines played an important role in the expansion of road transport networks and the resultant economic and social development of rural communities.

In Australia, steam wagons were extensively used by local councils for road-making and research indicates that this vehicle's earlier history is linked to local government.


A 1972 Papunya Painting 'Corroboree for Young Men' by Long Jack Phillipus Tjakamarra.

The painting is an aesthetically exceptional work created by one of the founders of the central desert art movement, from the movement's seminal period from 1971 to 1973. Although there are a number of works by this artist in public collections, the majority of these were created in 1971. There are very few of the artist's works from later in the seminal period in public collections, and none of them are as aesthetically exceptional as this 1972 work.

The painting depicts culturally weighty subject matter relating to explicit ceremonies of the sacred/secret world of men. The painting includes tchuringas or sacred boards decorated with patterns used on the body of participants in the initiation ceremony. Other references to the sacred world of men are contained in the 'blood and kidneys' designs incorporated into the painting, and the depiction of human figures painted for ceremony. These figures are depicted kneeling, as if at a critical moment in the ceremony. Two similar paintings by this artist held in the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory are catalogued as 'secret'. The depictions of human figures in the painting's imagery are rare in the central desert school at this period.


A 1905 McLaren Steam Traction Engine, Builder's No. 705.

The engine is the oldest known compound McLaren traction engine in Australia. The adoption of the compound engine design was one of the most significant technological advances in building steam traction engines and McLaren's were one of the first English firms to introduce compound engines into Australia. As a result, this engine has significant technological importance as an object of Australia's cultural heritage, which is enhanced by the impact steam traction engines had on the development of agriculture in Australia between 1884 and 1914.

As late as 2001 this engine was rigged to work artesian bore drains, demonstrating one of the many uses to which steam traction engines were applied in Australian primary production. The engine's role in the application of artesian water to primary industry serves as a tangible link to the early development and utilisation of subterranean water in Australia.

The engine also has a provenance to the prominent grazier Mr E J Beardmore, who was a Member of the Queensland Legislative Assembly, and probable links to the Griffiths family of Toowoomba and their 'Toomaroo' pastoral enterprise. The Griffiths were also the founding owners of the Toowoomba Foundry that produced the famous 'Southern Cross' windmills, diesel engines, and bore drilling equipment.


National Cultural Heritage Committee

The Act provides for the Minister to appoint the National Cultural Heritage Committee. The committee is responsible for advising the minister on permit applications and on the administration of the Act, including the National Cultural Heritage Control List, the Register of Expert Examiners, and the National Cultural Heritage Account.

Committee members during the year were:

Dr Philip Jones, Senior Curator, Department of Anthropology, South Australian Museum, from 26 October 1995 (Chair)

Professor Kenneth McNamara, Senior Curator, Invertebrate Paleontology, Western Australian Museum, from 26 October 1995

Mr Simon Molesworth AM QC, Barrister-at-Law, Victoria, from 29 January 1996

Professor Di Yerbury AO, Vice-Chancellor, Macquarie University, Sydney, from 12 October 2000. Professor Yerbury’s term was extended until December 2005

Ms Deborah Tranter, Deputy Director, Cobb and Co Museum, Queensland, from 24 April 2000

Ms Jennifer Sanders, Associate Director, Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, from 4 May 2000

Ms Kylie Winkworth, Museum and Heritage Consultant, NSW, from 12 August 2002

Ms Avril Quaill, Associate Curator, Indigenous Australian Art, Queensland Art Gallery, from 1 October 2002. (During the year Ms Quaill became Principal Project Officer, Queensland Indigenous Arts Marketing and Export Agency.)

Mr Bill Bleathman, Director, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, from 25 February 2003

Dr Susan Marsden, historian, South Australia, from 23 April 2004

The committee held telephone conferences on 11 August 2004, 7 December 2004, 13 April 2005 and 18 May 2005 to consider contentious applications and issues under the Act. A considerable volume of committee business was conducted out of session, including the consideration of export applications and formulating recommendations and advice to the minister.

Committee-related expenditure for 2004 - 05 was $7 735.34 for sitting fees.

Register of Expert Examiners

The Register of Expert Examiners was maintained by the committee in accordance with section 22 of the Act. The committee continually seeks to invite individuals with appropriate expertise to join the register to ensure that it is balanced, comprehensive and representative.

The committee wishes to express its sincere gratitude to the expert examiners, who are not paid, for giving the benefit of their wide experience and practical support throughout the year. Their specialised knowledge and advice in preparing reports for consideration by the committee and the minister are vital in the protection of Australia’s significant movable cultural heritage, as is the specialist advice they provide to the Australian Customs Service and the Australian Federal Police.

The UNESCO convention

There are 104 parties to the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property (1970). The Act was passed as the necessary implementing legislation prior to Australia’s accession to the convention, which occurred on 30 January 1990.

Appendix 1 - Summary of export applications and assessments 2004 - 05

Export applications 2004 - 05
Objects Applications
Applications brought forward as at 1 July 2004 42 19
Applications received during 2004-05 200 115
Active applications during 2004-05 242 134
Applications finalised during 2004-05 253 111
Applications carried over as at 30 June 2005 46 23

Outcomes of applications finalised 2004 - 051
Objects Outcomes
Permanent export permits issued 27 18 2
Temporary export permits issued 72 13
Letters of Clearance issued 105 54
Certificates of Exemption issued 38 15
Permits refused 5 5
Applications withdrawn 6 6
Total outcomes 2004-05 253 111
  1. An application may have more than one outcome. For example, an application covering three objects may result in one object being an Australian Protected Object, thereby requiring an export permit, and the remaining two objects being non- Australian Protected Objects which results in a Letter of Clearance being issued.
  2. Including one conditional export permit covering one object.

Letters of Clearance - non-application 2004 - 05

Fifteen additional Letters of Clearance were issued covering 1 380 objects. These resulted from assessments of objects without a formal application being lodged.

Variations processed 2004 - 05

One variation to a permit/Certificate of Exemption was processed covering one object.

Total assessments actioned during 2004 - 05

A total of 149 assessments were actioned covering 1 679 objects.

Appendix 2 - Permits issued in 2004 - 05

Permanent permits - description


c. 1910 McLaren Traction Engine (parts)


Papunya Board: Untitled, 1971 by Old Tutuma Tjapangarti


Papunya Board: Mala (Wallaby) Dreaming, 1971 by Johnny Warangkula Tjupurrula


Papunya Board: Emu Story, 1971 by Kaapa Mbitjana Tjampitjinpa


Papunya Board: Untitled, 1972 by John Kiparra Tjakamarra


1952 Baguley & Drewry Narrow Gauge Diesel Locomotive


1924 Fowler Narrow Gauge Railway Locomotive


1901 Fowler 7 HP Steam Traction Engine


c. 1901 Fowler 8HP Steam Traction Engine


1908 Fowler 8HP Steam Traction Engine


1916 Hunslet Steam Locomotive


Papunya Board: Maggie Springs, 1972 by Charlie Taruru Tjungurrayi


Creation of the Milky Way, c. 1960 Attributed to Thomas Amagula


Copulating Mimihs, c. 1962 by Yirawala


Kundaagi The Red Plains Kangaroo, 1963 by Yirwala

Skeletal Remains of Kundaagi, 1964 by Yirwala


Two Mimi Figures, c. 1957, Artist Unknown


Mimih Mourning, 1958 by Yirawala


Gundaring meteorite specimen, Kumerina meteorite specimen, Redfields meteorite specimen, Wonyulgunna meteorite specimen, Milly Milly meteorite specimen, Youndegin meteorite specimen, Mt Magnet meteorite specimen, Warburton Ranges specimen


Temporary permits - description


Papunya Board: Untitled by Pinta Pinta Tjapanangka

Aboriginal Painting: Untitled, c. 1971-72, Artist Unknown

Papunya Board: Wallaby Tracks, 1976 by Tim Leura Tjapaltjarri

Papunya Board: Women's Dreaming, 1974-75 by Turkey Tolson Tjupurrula

Aboriginal Painting: Untitled, 1972 by Charlie Egalie Tjapaltjarrie

Papunya Board: Honey Ant Dreaming, 1981 by Mick Tjakamarra

Aboriginal Painting: Pau Country Bedford, 1984, by Anatara - Anatjari (No. 3) Tjakamarra


Philatelic Exhibits which include FRAMA ATM & CPS, Postal History of Indo-China, Roads and Bridges, From Pillar to Post (Box), Australia - The Newspaper Wrappers, France-Australia Airmail Rates 1934-2004, etc


2 Rainforest Shields, early C20th, north-east Queensland.

Wunda Shield, early C20th, Western Australia

Engraved Shields, early C20th, Western Australia

2 Engraved Boomerangs, early C20th, western NSW, or central Queensland

Rainforest Club, early C20th, Queensland

3 Engraved Boomerangs, early C20th, western NSW or central Queensland

Pineapple Headed Club, early C20th, Queensland

Papunya Board, Men's Corroboree Dreaming in a Cave, 1974 by Anatjari [III] Tjakamarra

Papunya Board: Maggie Springs, 1972 by Charlie Taruru Tjungurrayi

Papunya Board, Untitled, 1972 by Old Walter Tjampitjinpa

Papunya Board, Malu Kutjarra 1979, by Andrew Bulin Tjapangati

3 Artworks on Bark, c. 1970s, Groote Eylandt

Artwork on Bark, c. 1970s, Port Keats

Papunya Canvas: Untitled, 1974, by Kaapa Mbitjana Tjampitjinpa


Wooden Fence Railings, Iron Hinges, ex Myall Creek


Aboriginal Shield, Aboriginal Nulla Nulla, Aboriginal Spear


Wanjina, c. 1979 by Alec Mingelmangan


Aborigines - First Time Drinking Alcohol by Naranolge


Wanjina, c. 1970, by Charlie Numbulmoore


Spearing Fish and Black Swans, c. 1890 by Tommy McRae


Murray River Tribe War Dance (Before the Fight), c. 1890s by Tommy McRae


Bark Painting: Spirit Figures, c. 1960


North East Queensland Rainforest Shield


North East Queensland Bi-Cornial Basket


Certificates of Exemption - description


Wooden Sculpture Human Figure, 1963 by Yirawala

Bark Painting by Yirawala, Bark Painting by Jimmy Midjawmidjaw

Wooden Sculpture by Paddy Compass Namatbara

Wooden Sculpture by Jimmy Midjawmidjaw


Bark Painting: Untitled, c. 1960s by January Nangunyari-Naniridali


Oil Painting by George Lambert


Autograph Manuscript Journal of Captain Charles Sturt's Expedition


Papunya Board: Emu Corroboree Man, 1972 by Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri

Papunya Board: Honey Ant Dreaming, 1972 by Tim Leura Tjapaltjarri

Papunya Board: Corroboree Boys, 1972 by Kaapa Mbitjana Tjampitjimpa


Papunya Board: Children's Story, 1972 by David Corby Tjapaltjari


Papunya Board: Untitled, c. 1973 by Tim Leura Tjapaltjarri


Bark Painting: The Seagull, 1962 by Mawalan Marika


Papunya Board: Untitled, 1973 by Tim Leura Tjapaltjarri


Papunya Board: Rock Wallaby, 1973 by Long Jack Phillipus Tjakamarra

Papunya Board: Many Stories, 1973 by Tim Leura Tjapaltjarri

Papunya Board: Untitled, 1973 by Charlie Tararu Tjungurrayi

Papunya Board: Tingari Story, 1973 by Uta Uta Tjangala, 6 Papunya Boards


Papunya Board: Wild Potato Dreaming, c. 1971 by Mick Namarari Tjapaltjarra

Papunya Board: Bird Story, c. 1971 by Billy Stockman Tjapaltjarri

Papunya Board: Kangaroo Dreaming, c. 1985 by Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri

Papunya Board: Birds in Rain at Barron Creek, c. 1971 by Kaapa Mbitjaana

Tjantitjinpa and 1974, Papunya Wild Orange Body Painting, c. 1971 by Kaapa Mbitjaana Tjantitjinpa


Stamp Collection including British and Australian Stamps


Papunya Board: Untitled, c. 1972 by Yala Yala Gibbs Tjungurrayi

Papunya Board: Man's Corroboree Story', c. 1972, by Freddy West Tjakamarra