8 August

Arts Law succeeds in creating export exemption to benefit Indigenous artists

The Federal Government has exempted the native plant, pandanus spiralus  from the List of Exempt Native Specimens so that articles made from pandanus can now be exported overseas without restrictions.


In 2011, Arts Law was contacted by the Elcho Arts Centre who had been notified by the Department of Sustainability and Environment that artworks containing the native Australian plant, pandanus spiralus (pandanus) could not be sent overseas for an upcoming exhibition. Under federal legislation, it is an offence to export a regulated native specimen and significant penalties apply. Arts Law, along with assistance from law firm DLA Piper, applied for an ‘exceptional circumstances permit’ to allow a one-off exception for the art centre to export the works by the deadline. Although the permit was grantedin that particular instance, it became apparent that a longer-term solution was required and an application was made to the Minister to amend the List of Exempt Native Specimens (LENS) by adding pandanus. After a lengthy review process, pandanus has now been included on that list.  

What does this mean for artists?

This is wonderful news for Indigenous artists who use the pandanus plant in their artworks and the art centres that represent them. It is no longer an offence to export the plant and there is no need to apply to the Minister and possibly wait up to three months for approval if you want to exhibit or sell an artwork containing pandanusoverseas.

Arts Law remains concerned that there may well be other native plants and animals used by Indigenous artists in Australia that need to be considered for inclusion on the LENS. Arts Law looks forward to further engagement with Indigenous arts organisations as well as the relevant government agencies on this issue. The current list of exempt species is available online at http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/wildlife-trade/lists/exempt/

For more background on the Pandanus problem see https://www.artslaw.com.au/articles/entry/elcho-island-artists-and-the-pandanus-problem/