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Museum of Australia Act - Museum of Australia - Report and financial statements, together with Auditor-General's Report - Period - 8 September 1980 to 30 June 1981

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The Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia


Annual Report


Presented pursuant to Statute 17 M arch 1982

Ordered to be p rin te d 25 M arch 1982

Parliamentary Paper No. 64/1982



The Honourable the Minister for Home Affaire and Environment Parliament House CANBERRA ACT 2600

Dear Sir

Canberra House. Marcus Clarke St.. Canberra City, A.C.T. 2601

Telephone 48 4711

30 September 1981


In compliance uith section 38 of the Museum of Australia Act 1980 and section 63M of the Audit Act 1901, the Museum hae submitted for my report financial statements for the period 8 September 1980 to 30 June 1981 comprising a Statement of Expenditure, Trust Fund

transactions and Notes to and forming part of the accounts.

A copy of the statements, which are in the form approved by the Minister for Finance pursuant to section 63M(1) of the Audit Act, is attached for your information.

The Museum was established on 8 September 1980 and an Interim Council was appointed on 23 December 1980. During the period to which this report relates all financial transactions in relation to the operations of the Museum other than Trust Fund transactions were processed through the Consolidated Revenue Fund by arrangement on behalf of the Museum by the Department of Home Affairs and Environment. Trust Fund transactions

were processed through the Museum’s accounts and records. As a result the Statement of Expenditure reflects only accounting transactions processed through the Consolidated Revenue Fund by the Department on behalf of the Museum. The introductory comments to the Statement of Expenditure and the Notes disclose this arrangement.

Section 63M(2) of the Audit Act requires the Auditor- General to report whether:

(a) in his opinion the statements are based on proper accounts and records;

(b) the statements are in agreement uith the accounts and records; and

(c) in his opinion the receipt, expenditure and investment of moneys, and the acquisition and disposal of assets, by the Museum during the year have been in accordance uith the Museum of Australia Act.

Due to the particular circumstances referred to above and disclosed in the Statement of Expenditure and the Notes to and forming part of the accounts, I now report that:

(a) in my opinion the statements are based on proper accounts and records maintained by the Department of Home Affairs and Environment;

(b) to this extent, the statements and accompanying notes are in agreement uith those accounts and records; and

(c) in my opinion the receipt and expenditure of moneys and the acquisition of assets by, or on behalf of, the Museum have been in accordance uith the Museum of Australia Act 1980. No moneys uere invested and no assets uere disposed of during the year.

Youra faithfully

K.F. Brigden Auditor-General

Parliamentary Paper No. 64/1982

The Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia


Annual Report


The Commonwealth Government Printer

Canberra 1982

© Commonwealth of Australia 1982

Printed by A u th o rity by the Commonwealth Government Printer



Dear Minister,

The Museum of Australia has pleasure in presenting its Annual Report for 1980-81.

This is the first report prepared by the Museum and, in accordance with section 38 (3) of the Museum of Australia Act 1980, relates to the period commencing on 8 September 1980 and ending on 30 June


Yours sincerely,

A .T . Dix

The Hon Ian Wilson, M.P., Minister for Home Affairs and Environment, Parliament House, CANBERRA, A.C.T. 2600


M em bers of Interim Council

Mr A. T. Dix

The Hon. Sir Peter Crisp Dr D. F. McMichael, C.B.E. Professor D. J. Mulvaney Mr P. H. Pigott, A.M.

Dr W. D. L. Ride Mr R. H. Smith Lady Stephen Mr W. Wulanybuma Professor J. Zubrzycki, C.B.E.

Executive Secretary Mr P. M. Ryan



The Museum of Australia was established by the Museum of Australia Act 1980 which received Royal Assent on 8 September 1980. An Interim Council was appointed on 23 December 1980. As well as exercising, under the Act, the general powers and functions of the Council which will be appointed in due course to succeed it, the

Interim Council has specific functions given to it by the Hon. R. J. Ellicott, Q.C., M.P., then Minister for Home Affairs and Environment. The terms of reference of the Interim Council are: 1. To report to the Commonwealth Government within two years on

the establishment, location and development of the Museum of Australia, including a program of construction and costs. 2. The planning to be on the basis that the Museum should follow three main themes — the history of Aboriginal man, the history of

non-Aboriginal man and the interaction of man with his environment in Australia. 3. To initiate steps for the appointment of the Director of the Museum.

4. Prior to the preparation of any report, the Interim Council should consult widely and have due regard to the availability of museum expertise and interest that exists in Australia. 5. To exercise at its discretion the powers and functions of the

Council of the Museum as provided in the Museum of Australia Act, 1980. 6. To draw up an acquisitions policy for the Museum and to implement that policy within the constraints of the funds available.

7. To carry out its statutory requirements in respect of the preparation of financial estimates and annual reports to the Parliament as specified in Sections 34 and 38 of the Act. The members of the Interim Council are conscious of the great opportunity, inherent in these terms of reference, to assemble for display in the National Capital, the history of our diverse Australian culture which is blended from many sources, and of which we are proud. The Interim Council welcomes the responsibility it has been given by the Government to develop a great national collection to

record our history in actual examples, and to use the collection to present a synopsis of Australian history. The synopsis will present the ways in which Aboriginal Australians, and the others who came later, interact with each other, and with the environment that nurtures them, the end result being the land and the people of today’s Australia.


During the short period in which the Interim Council has been in existence, the most important Government decisions affecting the Museum have arisen out of the Review of the Commonwealth Functions. As a result of that Review the Government has announced that the Institute of Anatomy will be made available to the Museum. This first step will give the Museum a base from which to conduct its

business during the planning and collecting phases which will occupy its initial years. In addition, the building will permit some modest displays of the Collection to be presented, thus enabling visitors to see how it is developing and to learn of plans for more permanent facilities.

The Review also initiated an examination of the future of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies including its relationship to the Museum of Australia and the Australian Heritage Commission. The Interim Council welcomes this examination since in its view the

Institute and the Museum have common and overlapping interests in preserving and presenting Aboriginal culture, and their future operations must be closely linked. The Interim Council appreciates the concern expressed by members of the community at the consequences to the Museum of Australia when, following the Review of Commonwealth Functions, the Government announced that the construction of the Museum of Australia would be delayed indefinitely. The Interim Council does not see this decision as being inconsistent with its terms of reference

noted above. It is consequently proceeding to develop plans for submission to Government which reflect a realistic view of the time frame for a building program consistent with the intentions of the Government, yet appropriate to the creation in Canberra of a major national institution.

Progress to Date

In its five months of operation, the Interim Council has concentrated on laying the groundwork for its report and establishing communication with a range of organizations and people. In particular, it has met representatives of the National Aboriginal Conference and members of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies.

The history of the Aboriginal people in Australia occupies such a large part of the history of this country that the Interim Council determined at the outset that it must establish a continuous and close relationship with representatives of the Aboriginal community.

The widespread response from all sections of the Australian community to the establishment of the Museum and to requests by the Interim Council for expressions of views has been most


heartening. Many expressions of enthusiasm for the Museum and offers of assistance and co-operation have been received. The Committee of Enquiry into Museums and National Collections outlined in its report, Museums in Australia 1975, a general concept for the Museum of Australia. This has been applauded for its

imaginative approach and provides a well reasoned basis from which the Interim Council is proceeding. The Interim Council is confident that when its plans for the Museum of Australia are complete, it will be proposing a Museum very different from the State museums but one which will complement their activities.

Arrangements are in hand for discussions and workshops involving experts in the various fields to be covered by the Museum and to ensure that the report to Government is as comprehensive and detailed as possible.

The Interim Council is working closely with the National Capital Development Commission and other organizations to ensure the recommendation for a most suitable site will be the result of a close examination of all alternatives.

At an early meeting, the Interim Council elected Mr P. H. Pigott, A.M., former Chairman of the Committee of Enquiry on Museums and National Collections, to be its Vice-Chairman.


The Interim Council expresses its appreciation to the Department of Home Affairs, and to the Public Service Board, for their assistance in providing initial staff for the Secretariat. It is unfortunate that, because of the current restrictions on filling positions, it has not been

possible to make permanent appointments. Particular concern is felt over delays experienced in obtaining approval to appoint a Director. The Interim Council is convinced that an early appointment is crucial.

The National Historical Collection

All the historical material owned by the Museum is included in the National Historical Collection. The work of the Museum will have as its basis the National Historical Collection. It will be used to develop an understanding and appreciation of the present as much as of the past. It will enable informative and thought-provoking displays to

illustrate the character of the Australian environment and the cultures of its peoples. Currently the Collection consists of a nucleus acquired by various Government authorities and brought together by the Department of


Home Affairs and Environment prior to the establishment of the Museum. Now that the Museum has been established, the Minister for Home Affairs and Environment has been asked to transfer the material to the Museum with effect from 1 July 1981.

A small amount of ethnographic material is already owned by the Museum as a result of acquisitions made this year. In addition, there is in existence a large collection of Australian and Pacific Island material that is known as the National Ethnographic Collection. It was brought together by a number of authorities, including the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, which collected the larger part of the Aboriginal material. It is considered by the Interim Council that all this

material should be transferred to the Museum, but the arrangements for transfer are yet to be settled.


The amount of material obtained this year has been small as only slender funds were provided for acquisition and the Interim Council itself has been operating for such a brief period. Three important purchases have been made. These were —

• the Ranken Coach (1821).

• a Cobb & Co Coach.

• the Le Souef Collection of Aboriginal artefacts dating from 1840. Two donations and one bequest were also received. These were — • a commemorative urn and parchment marking the shooting of the bushranger O'Mealley.

• a Papua New Guinea Kundu drum and weapons.

• the Lenin and Curie Peace Prizes awarded to the late Sir William Morrow.

The Interim Council gratefully acknowledges the generosity and public spiritedness of the donors of these items.


The Interim Council is seriously concerned for the safety of the collections referred to in this Report. Most of the existing historical collection is stored in a warehouse subject to great environmental fluctuation; in addition it is impossible to prevent the entry of dust and attacks by vermin.

The National Ethnographic Collection is housed in slightly better accommodation but is without environmental controls and is in danger of deterioration as well as being liable to accidental damage.

The provision of appropriate accommodation for the Collection is one of the Interim Council’s highest priorities for the immediate future.



In concluding its first report on the Museum of Australia, the Interim Council wishes to place on record its appreciation to all those who have played a part in bringing the Museum into effect. Particular thanks are due to the Hon. Mr Justice R. J. Ellicott, then Minister for

Home Affairs and Environment, to Dr D. F. McMichael, C.B.E., Secretary of the Department, and to Mr Peter Ryan, the Acting Executive Secretary of the Interim Council and his staff of the Secretariat.

The Interim Council is particularly conscious of the great honour done to the Museum by his Excellency the Right Honourable Sir Zelman Cowen, A.K., G.C.M.G., G.C.V.O., K.St.J., Q.C., Governor- General, in attending its inaugural meeting on 3 February, 1981.

A. T. Dix Chairman


Museum of Australia


The following items of expenditure were paid by the Department of Home Affairs and Environment on behalf of the Museum of Australia: Interim Council $

— Sitting Fees 4,220

— Travelling Allowances 4,605

— Fares 11,034

— Car Hire 1,058

— Other 2,047

Secretariat — Salaries 25,625

Administrative Costs — Travelling Allowances 608

— Fares 1,417

— Car Hire 184

— Office Requisites 933

— Furniture and Fittings 660

— Freight and Cartage 820

— Display and Storage 16,628

National Historical Collection — Acquisition 24,596

— Conservation 500


Museum of Australia TRUST FUND

Balance NIL

Receipts 240


Less Payments NIL

— Balance 30 June 1981 240

The accompanying notes form an integral part of these statements.

P. M. Ryan Acting Director


Museum of Australia

NOTES TO AND FORMING PART OF THE ACCOUNTS 1. General a) As a result of the recommendations contained in the Report of the Committee of Inquiry on Museums and National Collections, 1975

(the Pigott Report), the Government established the Museum of Australia and appointed an Interim Council. The enabling legislation is the Museum of Australia Act 1980 (NO. 115 of 1980).

b) This Statement of Expenditure is prepared in accordance with the requirements of S38 of the Museum of Australia Act. c) A total of $1 51,000 was appropriated for the Museum of Australia through the Department of Home Affairs and Environment. As the

Statement of Expenditure shows, the total outlay was $94,935. d) The Museum of Australia was formally established on 8 September, 1980. The Interim Council of the Museum was

appointed on 23 December. 1980 and had its first meeting on 3 February 1981.

e) This Statement of Expenditure contains items of expenditure incurred by the Department of Home Affairs and Environment on behalf of the Museum of Australia prior to its formal establishment. The Statement does not include the costs of administrative

support provided by the Department and the cost of one officer currently on loan to the Museum Secretariat.

2. Acquisitions for the National Historical Collection The major items purchased on behalf of the Museum in 1980/81 were a Fowler traction engine $10,000; an Austral Otis steamroller $8,000 and the J.C. Le Souef Collection of Aboriginal Weapons and Artefacts $6,498.

The formal responsibility for the care of the National Historical Collection was transferred to the Museum of Australia with effect from 1 July, 1981.

3. Trust Fund The Museum of Australia Trust Fund contains $240. This sum represents a donation by a member of the Interim Council.