TONY BURKE MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS
SHADOW MINISTER FOR THE ARTS
MANAGER OF OPPOSITION BUSINESS
MEMBER FOR WATSON
SHADOW MINISTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM
MEMBER FOR ISAACS
AUSTRALIA’S PRECIOUS HERITAGE DISAPPEARING AS MORRISON DITHERS ON ARCHIVES
Labor welcomes the campaign by over 150 leading Australian writers, researchers and thinkers calling for the National Archives of Australia to be saved from the Morrison Government’s wanton neglect.
‘We are writing to you because we fear that the integrity of the nation’s premier memory bank, the National Archives of Australia, is in jeopardy and to urge you to secure its future,’ the letter declares.
The campaign has been prompted by the disastrous performance at Senate Estimates last week from Mr Morrison’s junior minister responsible for the NAA, Senator Amanda Stoker, who dismissed concerns about the disintegration of our precious historical records as ‘part of the ageing process’ and said ‘time marches on’.
Senator Stoker could not be more wrong. The National Archives help to preserve our Australian stories and are a vital part of our cultural heritage.
Once items are lost, a part of our history and culture is gone forever.
For 18 months now, the Morrison Government has been sitting on a comprehensive report by former Finance Secretary David Tune which included a finding that the NAA urgently needed $67 million in emergency funding to prevent the irretrievable loss of historical records held on film and magnetic tape.
Despite this, for the second year in a row, the Budget did not contain any of the urgent additional funding recommended by the Tune Review.
This is the same Morrison Government that diverted over $100 million into a Liberal Party election slush fund under the Sports Rorts scandal, handed over $33 million to a Liberal Party donor for airport land worth $3 million and raised a whopping $1.7 billion in debts against vulnerable Australians through its brutal, unlawful and catastrophically failed Robodebt scheme.
Yet when an inquiry that this Liberal Government established into the National Archives recommended an urgent injection of around $10 million per year over the next seven years to preserve our nation’s heritage, Mr Morrison and his gang ignored it.
In evidence to the Senate Committee inquiry into this fiasco the Director-General of the National Archives made clear what is at stake here:
‘The difference between the Archives and other collecting institutions is that an item is in the Archives because it is unique; it's the one and only version. So if we lose records then they are permanently and irretrievably lost’.
The damage caused by Mr Morrison’s refusal to properly fund the National Archives shows how far his party has strayed from the conservative and liberal traditions on which the party was founded.
The National Archives were founded by Robert Menzies and the Morrison Government is now trashing that legacy and, along with it, Australia’s precious history.
FRIDAY, 11 JUNE 2021