A leading Aboriginal souvenir wholesaler is facing the prospect of massive fines after selling ‘genuine’ Indigenous artefacts across Australia which were actually made in Bali.
The Federal Court recently found Birubi Art Pty Ltd – who sold more than 18,000 boomerangs, didgeridoos and message stories to a plethora of shops across the nation – deliberately made false or misleading representations that their products were Australian made.
Despite being mass produced in Indonesian factories out of Bali, the court found some of the items, which featured Indigenous words like ‘Aboriginal Art’, ‘genuine’ and ‘Australia’, offered the impression they were genuine Australian products.
‘Aboriginal artefacts represent this country on a world stage – their design, form, colour and style hold unique connections to one of the oldest cultures on the globe,’ 60 Minutes investigative reporter Liam Bartlett said.
‘As soon as we were tipped onto this unscrupulous trade by concerned Indigenous artists, we immediately set out to identify the source of the supply chain – and the companies exploiting 40,000 years of Australian culture for a quick buck.
‘Shockingly, our investigation ultimately revealed these cheap copies were being mass produced for both the Australian tourism market – as well as many foreign clients in European countries.’
The Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) recently launched legal action against Birubi Art Pty Ltd.
ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court found their dealings to be ‘unacceptable.’
‘The artwork, images and statements used by Birubi suggested a relationship between Australian Aboriginal people and the production of the products which did not exist,’ she said.
‘The ACCC is particularly concerned about any conduct that has the potential to undermine the integrity and value of genuine Indigenous Australian art, and consequently the impact that could have on Indigenous Australian artists.
‘The ACCC will not hesitate to take further action against traders who mislead consumers about the nature of their products.’
When approached by Daily Mail Australia on Friday over the phone, a representative from Birubi chose not to comment on behalf of the company.