The Protection of Movable Cultural Heritage Act 1986 (Cth) protects Australia's heritage of movable cultural objects which are important for ethnological, archaeological, historical, literary, artistic, scientific or technological reasons. The Act establishes a National Cultural Heritage Committee that advises the Minister on the operation of the Act and to objects that should be included in, or removed from, the Control List.
The National Cultural Heritage Control List is a list prescribed by regulation and contains categories of objects that constitute the movable cultural heritage of Australia and which are therefore subject to export controls. The list divides objects into:
- Class A objects, which cannot be exported except with a certificate; and
- Class B objects which can only be exported in accordance with either a permit or certificate.
The difference between a permit and a certificate is set out in the Act.
An appeal can be made to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal if the Minister refuses to grant a permit or certificate or imposes conditions. Anyone who exports, or attempt to export, an Australian protected object commits an offence and may be fined up to $200 000 for a body corporate and $100 000 or imprisonment for a period of five years (or both), for a person. In addition, the object is forfeited. Inspectors are given wide powers of search and arrest to enforce the provisions of the Act.
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