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Remarks at Indonesian Embassy

3pm

Subject: Return of Indonesian skulls

Fifield:

Your Excellency, thank you so much for having me and my team here with you today. And thank you very much for your warm welcome and that of your team.

Today does represent a significant occasion in the relationship between our two countries.

As the Minister for the Arts I have on behalf of the Government had the great honour and privilege of being the custodian, for a period of time, of these very important cultural artefacts.

Regrettably there is an awful illicit trade in cultural artefacts and human objects. We were very pleased when our Indonesian friends asked us to seize these objects on their behalf, to do so.

That has given us the responsibility to ensure that we are, for a short period of time, good custodians. So that we are in a position to return home these important artefacts. These important cultural and human remains.

We are very fortunate that we have good legislation, strong legislation in Australia that allows us to take action when people are doing the wrong thing, in seeking to trade these objects. So I would particularly like to acknowledge the National Museum of Australia who have ensured that we treat very appropriately and take good care and are well prepared for the journey home.

So your Excellency thank you again for the opportunity to be here today and to take part in the transferring to your custody on the journey home. Thank you very much.

[ends]

Media contacts

Geraldine Mitchell | 0407 280 476 | Geraldine.Mitchell [at] communications.gov.au

Guy Creighton | 0438 815 302 | Guy.Creighton [at] communications.gov.au