Federal Labor is appalled by reports of the exploitation of Indigenous artists in Central Australia, and welcomes news that the government will take the issue seriously.
According to the reports, several well-known Indigenous artists have been subject to no less than servitude, after being forced by an unnamed dealer to produce new artworks to pay off debts.
This is completely unacceptable and should not be happening in Australia.
Labor welcomes the moves by Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt and the South Australian Premier to open investigations into these allegations.
The government’s decision to investigate these specific allegations of exploitation creates the opportunity for the government to also act on systemic exploitation of First Nations artists.
There is probably no greater example of systemic exploitation than what is happening right now with the sale of fake art.
In tourist shops around the nation, work posing as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art has in fact been made in factories overseas, with local communities neither owning the art nor receiving the royalties.
The House Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs made a number of recommendations in its 2018 report on combating fake Indigenous art, which the government is yet to respond to.
It would be a lost opportunity if the government acts on the individual examples that have been reported and fails to act on the systemic problem which can be found in tourist stores around the nation.