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Thursday, 6 May 1993
Page: 268


Senator TEAGUE (3.40 p.m.) —by leave—I thank you, Madam Acting Deputy President, and I also thank the Senate. I am a strong supporter of the Australian National Maritime Museum at Darling Harbour, Sydney, and of the extent to which it can be made available, through newsletters and membership, to Australians in every State. Its predecessor, in Port Adelaide, which was directed by the national museum's current director, Dr Kevin Fewster, is another important resource and is an excellent predecessor to this wider canvas that we now see in Darling Harbour.

  This annual report is very significant because it is the first substantial report. During 1991-92 the museum was officially opened—one of the last acts of the former Prime Minister, Mr Hawke. During President Bush's visit to Australia in January last year, he made a speech at the museum and the contribution to the museum by the United States was officially received and acknowledged by the then Prime Minister, Mr Keating, and also by the Leader of the Opposition, Dr Hewson.

   In the short while that I have had this report available to me, I have been able to flip through all of its pages, to see its structure and also to read in detail a number of areas that are of special interest. I commend the museum for the structure of the report, for its financial accountability, for the director's introduction and for the ample number of photographs, which I think are very appropriate for a report of this kind.

  I congratulate Mr Peter Doyle, the chairman; Dr Kevin Fewster, the director; and the members of council for the way in which the museum has developed in its first year and a half. I note that the membership of the council includes one of Australia's recent and continuing heroes—or should I say heroines—Kay Cottee, who, as a boatbuilder, a yachtswoman and the first woman to circumnavigate the world solo, has won the imagination of all of us.

  Other members of the council include Michael Kailis, a major entrepreneur involved in the fishing industry in Western Australia, whom I have met on a number of occasions, and my good friend Sir James Hardy. He is listed as being a council member from New South Wales, but I would see him as still representing South Australia, the State of his birth, his youth and his first sailing. Indeed, one of the major exhibits in the museum is one of his most successful smaller yachts, which he donated to the museum. I pick out those names, but I commend all of the members of the council and the representative of the Royal Australian Navy for their part in the business of the council.

  I refer briefly to the finances of the museum. I see that there is a $17 million annual allocation for operating expenses. Whilst this is balanced, there are creditors of $2 1/2 million for the financial year ended June 1992. I am sure that that is in hand, but on my own visits to the National Maritime Museum I have always asked questions of the director and other executive officers about the financial viability of the centre. I wish it to be entirely viable and able to expand in its exhibits and its accessibility to the public and I hope that its financial matters do reach an even keel very soon.

  I note the attendance figures on page 85 and the enormous burst of attendance in December and January, the first two months of its opening. I commend the museum very strongly and I will watch for its continuing annual reports.