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Thursday, 29 November 2012
Page: 14058

Mrs PRENTICE (Ryan) (11:10): This year, 2012, has been a very exciting and successful year for the National Archives of Australia. It has been an honour for me to continue representing the House of Representatives as a member of the National Archives of Australia advisory council. This time last year, we saw the former director-general Ross Gibbs retiring. In the last 12 months we have welcomed the new director-general, David Fricker, and a new chairman, Dr John Bannon. Whilst there has been a lot of change, there have also been a lot of achievements. One of the biggest challenges facing the archives has been how to capture, maintain and preserve the sheer volume of their digital records so that they are available for all future generations of Australians. In July 2011, the archives were officially appointed as lead agency in the implementation of the whole-of-government digital transition policy. This policy means moving from paper-based to digital information management for efficiency purposes. The archives leadership role is testament to their authority and expertise in digital information management across government, and indeed around the world, where we lead other countries in this area.

With more than 40 million items in the national archival collection, and an increasing amount of records continually transferred into their custody, the archives have continued to build their capability in ensuring that these records are preserved for future generations. A preferred site for the National Archives preservation facilities has been identified in the Canberra suburb of Mitchell. This large, purpose-built repository for the archives digital, paper and audiovisual records will ensure the best possible preservation of the nation's archival resources until at least 2013. I place on record my appreciation to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for expediting their deliberations on this so that we can move quickly to start the redevelopment of that site.

In September 2011, acting director-general, Stephen Ellis, travelled to Korea to accept the UNESCO/Jikji Memory of the World prize for Australia's work in digital preservation and iron gall ink research. The archives have decided to use the prize money—which was US$30,000—to fund a conservation scholarship. In addition, the archives will also match the prize money with the UNESCO/Jikji National Archives preservation training program, which will provide conservation training to Pacific and Australian Indigenous communities.

During the year, the archives continued to foster and strengthen their strategic relations with other archival organisations around the world. A huge amount of work was undertaken in collaboration with the International Council on Archives in the lead-up to the ICA Congress—a major international conference on archives held every four years. This year, we successfully hosted it in Brisbane, Australia. Once again, it was testament to the digital work of the National Archives of Australia with Australia at the forefront and leading other archival bodies around the world. We had an outstanding congress in Australia. Despite other world impacts, we had an excellent turn-up of people from around the world, and some outstanding guest speakers. I would like to place on record my appreciation to Aladin Rahemtula, the Queensland representative on the archives advisory council, who led the way in seeking for Brisbane to host the event. And, of course, the director-general and the very hardworking staff at the National Archives ensured that it was highly successful event for everyone. I would also note that during the year we had what we call the Constitution Day Forum. This year it was held in Sydney at the ABC studios on 2 July. At the Constitution Day Forum 2012 speakers included Professor Mick Dodson AM, Professor Frank Brennan AO, Professor Megan Davis and Alison Page on the subject 'Where to next for Indigenous recognition?' It is great that we are making the Constitution a living thing that Australians can look at as something to debate; it is not just some dusty document left behind on a shelf. We need to ensure that there is regular, lively debate on the Constitution and its implications for our country.

The other area of achievement is of the great digital initiatives where people can upload photographs onto the National Archives and have their relatives placed on permanent record. Also, a big thank you to Dr Stephen Ellis, the outgoing Acting Director General of the National Archives, for his dedicated contribution. (Time expired)