Securing the future of our national institutions

30 April 2023

This piece was first published in Canberra Daily on Sunday 30 April 2023. 

One of the great privileges of living in the national capital is our access to our national cultural and historical institutions. These institutions are the custodians of our national story and bring us together.

It was why myself and so many were so appalled when images of towels mopping up water from leaking windows at the National Gallery of Australia – which houses a $6.9 billion art collection – were shared in the media recently.

As Canberrans, we were all aware and felt the effects of the disdain for the capital held by the former Coalition Government. This distain culminated not just in attacks on the public service, but in a decade of cuts, neglect and chronic underfunding of our national institutions.

Canberrans, and Australians from all around the country, have been very concerned to hear stories of leaks also at the National Library, of the threat to the National Library’s digital archive, Trove, and potential loss of priceless historical artefacts at the National Archives.

Ensuring these institutions are properly funded has been a key part of my advocacy as an MP. It’s why I was so proud that the Albanese Labor Government has secured the future of our cultural and historical institutions.

In a pre-Budget announcement earlier this month, the Government confirmed it will invest an extra $535.3 million in nine National Collecting Institutions over four years.

The funding will go to the Museum of Australian Democracy (Old Parliament House), National Archives of Australia, National Film and Sound Archive, National Gallery of Australia, National Library of Australia, National Museum of Australia, the National Portrait Gallery of Australia, Australian National Maritime Museum and Bundanon Trust.

The Government has also guaranteed the long-term future of Trove, with $33 million over four years and, crucially, $9.2 million per year in indexed ongoing funding – providing certainty for the program and its many users for the first time.

This is wonderful news for Canberra as our national capital, for Canberrans, and all Australians, as it restores Australia’s cultural and historical institutions as a source of national pride. The national capital belongs to all Australians and is a city that all Australians should be proud of.

Every day, I talk to people from all spheres who are passionate about our city and its place in our nation about the work they are doing to make our beautiful city what is, their visions for the future and what we need to make it even better.

So that these ideas can be presented directly to the Parliaments, the Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories, which I chair, is conducting an inquiry into ways to foster and promote the significance of Canberra as Australia’s National Capital, including our national institutions and infrastructure.

Submissions close on 5 May and I encourage  all those who are passionate about the national capital to bring their vision and the challenges Canberra faces as a city to the attention of the Federal Parliament.


This piece was first published in Canberra Daily on Sunday 30 April 2023.