It’s time to support Canberra’s national institutions

It’s time to support Canberra’s national institutions Main Image

By David Smith MP

24 July 2020


In light of the recent cuts to jobs and services provided by the National Gallery, National Library and National Archives, Federal Member for Bean David Smith, wrote to the Prime Minister urging him to respond to the Telling Australia’s Story report.

The report was released 15 months ago and highlighted the challenges faced by the nation’s major cultural institutions and included 20 recommendations.  

The letter highlighted that the 2019 report, compiled throughout 2018, was based on submissions, several public hearings–with witnesses from every major cultural institution–and firsthand site visits by committee members.

The Committee was chaired by Ben Morton MP who, in the foreword to the report, noted that there was support across the political spectrum for the report’s conclusions and recommendations.

Unfortunately, 15 months on from the tabling of the report the Government is yet to respond to its recommendations including a critical finding on the efficiency dividend. A policy that is having a negative impact on critical skills, staff retention and the inefficient use of temporary labour hire arrangements.

Given the challenges faced by our national cultural institutions this is very disappointing.

The letter also took the opportunity to further comment on the worrying story that the National Archives of Australia is reportedly going to lose over 100,000 hours of magnetic tape records.

It should never be the case that a nation such as Australia, is wilfully deciding to discard some of its history. There is an absolute need for an immediate, coherent whole of Government approach to digitisation of analogue audio-visual items across all the collections by 2025.

Many in our community are frustrated with Government Ministers talking about ‘plans’ but not actually delivering the resources to develop, fund, and implement a sustainable future for these wonderful national resources that tell our Australian Story.

There is no doubt that it is time to invest in both the people as well as the physical collections and infrastructure of the national institutions.