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Save invaluable Labor and business history archives, Senate urges University.

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Save Invaluable Labor And Business History Archives, Senate Urges University Kim Carr - Parliamentary Secretary for Education

Media Statement - 1 November 2000

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The Senate has moved to preserve the threatened Noel Butlin Archives Centre at the Australian National University. The Noel Butlin Archives are a storehouse of labour and business documents central to scholarship in the fields of labour history, economic and corporate history and working life.

Mover of the motion, Senator Kim Carr, said today, "The Noel Butlin Archives are pre-eminent and unique in their role in research and scholarship related to Australian working life." Senator Carr is Labor's Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate.

Senator Carr pointed out that, although the ANU received $155 million per annum in Commonwealth money, it apparently could not find the $150,000 necessary to fund the Archives. "The University plans to mothball the Centre, effectively preventing public access to the materials stored in them.

"Countless prominent scholars and scholarly organisations in history, politics, sociology, economics and related disciplines, including many from overseas, have spoken out publicly about the proposal to close the Noel Butlin Centre," Senator Carr said.

He drew attention to the unique and explicit charter of the ANU that emphasises its national role in research, scholarship and teaching in areas of importance to Australia. "To effectively shut down these Archives would be a conscious and deliberate breach of the University's statutory responsibilities," Senator Carr said.

The Senate, in its motion passed today, has asked the ANU for a justification for the decision to cut funding to the Noel Butlin Archives Centre, and called upon the University. It also called upon the University to uphold its responsibility to administer and maintain the Noel Butlin Archives as Australia's most important and comprehensive repository of business and labour history.

Senate - Notice Of Motion

Australian National University: Noel Butlin Archives

Noting that:

(i) The Vice-Chancellor of the Australian National University, Professor Terrell, has referred

in his October 2000 report, "Plan for Growth", to the unique statutory charter of the ANU, which is characterised by its national role in teaching, postgraduate study and research;

(ii) the Commonwealth Parliament provides in excess of $150 million per annum to the Australian National University;

(iii) the alleged funding shortfall for the maintenance of the operation of the Noel Butlin Archives is $150,000 per annum; and

(iv) noting further the explicit national mission of the Australian National University in research, scholarship and teaching;

the Senate:

(a) asks the University to justify its proposal to cut funding to the Noel Butlin Archives with the result that they will be effectively inaccessible to the public; and

(b) calls upon the Australian National University to uphold its responsibility to administer and maintain the Noel Butlin Archives Centre as Australia's most important archives of business and labour records, and a unique repository of information on the history of Australian working life.

Authorised by Geoff Walsh, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.