A national operation has uncovered what are believed to be Tasmanian Aboriginal relics being sold online.
A property in Sydney was searched and more than 130 artefacts were located and seized.
Enforcement officers from the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment as well as their New South Wales and federal counterparts were involved in the investigation – which was the first of its kind under the state’s new Aboriginal Heritage Act 1975.
DPIPWE natural and cultural heritage division chief enforcement officer Luke Bond said a person was assisting them with their inquiries.
“The investigation is continuing and if it is determined that there is sufficient evidence, charges will be laid,” Mr Bond said.
“This operation would not have been possible without the collaboration of our interstate enforcement colleagues including the Australian Government Computer Forensic Services and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, and I thank them for their support and assistance.”
The Sydney raid comes less than two months after 38 items were seized from a property in Hobart.
The artefacts included stone materials that were allegedly being sold online.
Director of Aboriginal Heritage Tasmania Steve Gall said the investigations were an important warning to anyone attempting to sell Aboriginal relics.
“People need to be aware of the laws in place to protect Tasmania’s Aboriginal heritage, and that reports of breaches of the Act are investigated,” Mr Gall said.
“The long association of the Tasmanian Aboriginal people with the Tasmanian landscape has left a significant record of where and how Tasmanian Aboriginal peoples have lived and practiced their culture over 40,000 years.
“We are committed to the proper protection and management of Tasmanian Aboriginal heritage.”
A person found to be selling or offering to sell an Aboriginal relic or object face fines up to $795,000.
Anyone with information about the illegal trade of Aboriginal artefacts can make an anonymous report to DPIPWE by calling 0417661234.
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