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Wednesday, 14 May 1980
Page: 2230

Senator DAVIDSON (South Australia) - I consider for a moment clause 12 of the Australian Bicentennial Authority Bill which relates to the application of moneys of the Australian Bicentennial Authority. The Committee will know that clause I 2 of the Bill states:

Moneys of the Authority shall be applied only- in payment or discharge of the costs, expenses and other obligations incurred by the Authority in the promotion of the objects of the Authority or the exercise of the powers of the Authority;

I refer quite definitely to the wording of this clause and take the opportunity of the debate in the Committee stage of the Bill to make one or two pleas to the Government in relation to the allocation of funds, expenses and other obligations of the Authority in the promotion of the objects of the Authority or the exercise of the powers of the Authority.

When the Minister for National Development and Energy, Senator Carrick, was speaking on I May last year in relation to the Authority, he not only referred to the importance of the events in Australia but also said that it will be for the Authority to recommend what he called the 'concrete programs by which the commemoration will find expression. ' The Minister went on to say on that occasion that: the Authority will be seeking to involve all sections and members of the community individually and collectively.

Further in his speech he said:

Within these programs there will no doubt be a strong emphasis on history. This must under-pin any such commemoration.

These remarks are related quite closely to clause 12 of the Bill to which I have referred. I wish to take a few moments of the Committee's time to refer to a couple of items which come very much under the references which the Minister made in his earlier speech and which are covered in the wording of clause 12 of the Bill. I raise the subject not only to invite the Authority's interest in the matter but also to invite the interest of the Parliament and the Australian public as it relates to the bicentennial situation.

Firstly, I refer to a unique project which will be in need of support from the provisions made in clause 12. I wish to refer to a unique project being carried out by the Australian National University in Canberra in relation to the compilation of a dictionary. This project is designed to assist, promote and take part in the bicentennial occasions. It is described as an Australian national dictionary based on historical principles. The aim of the dictionary is to provide as complete as possible a record of distinctively Australian changes in the vocabulary of English in use between I 788 and I 988. I think it is important to point out that by the time the dictionary is published the English language will have been used in Australia for over 200 years. The compilation of an historical dictionary of what I would call Australian English may not seem to be the most important event in a bicentenary occasion. But it will acknowledge the continuing and changing relationship with the parent British English as well as those with other descendants of the British English language in Canada, India, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States of America.

The project has two phases: The collection of citations and the establishment of an archive which will be a continuing resource. One of these phases is already fairly well under way. Indeed, the archive consists of some 50,000 cards which record distinctively Australian word usage up to I 860. By the end of this year, it is expected that sources to 1900 will have been taken account of and that by 1983 and onwards the citations will have been totally recorded from a number of contemporary sources. This project has the support of the Australian Academy of the Humanities and the Australian Research Grants Committee. At the beginning of last year the Grants Committee funded the appointment of a number of assistants to look at material available not only in the Mitchell Library but also in a number of other places. The ARGC has continued to fund the research. The project has made further application for the appointment of assistants from Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane during this forthcoming year. Further funds will be required by the project. Next year when the editorial staff will be required, the processing of the collected material will begin and additional funds will be required. I relate this- I draw the Minister's attention to it- to the matter of clause 12 within this Bill concerning what the Bill describes as the promotion of the objects of the Authority.

The second matter I wish to raise concerns the National Library of Australia. Its project for the bicentennial year is related very much to clause 12 of the Bill. The Library has taken the initiative of establishing a program which will coincide with the bicentennial celebrations. It has proposed that it present a retrospective national bibliography to cover a number of years. It covered the years of the first half of this century because there is no authoritative standard listing of Australian publications for this period. The focus and bibliography of Australia provide a certain service but the period after 1950 is covered by the Library's own publication, 'Australian National Bibliography'. As honourable senators know, I am involved with the National Library and it is of the view that the publication of this particular volume would fulfil its obligation to provide an up-to-date adequate information service and a guide to resource materials to the Australian public.

I will make the claim that it would be a substantial contribution to scholarship and learning both nationally and internationally and totally related to the bicentennial situation and the Bicentennial Authority which is the subject of this Bill; because it is a matter which will require some funding it is therefore related to clause 12. The National Library has many priceless materials in its collection as far as Australian development is concerned and it feels that it has an obligation to share them. One way that this can be achieved is through the Library's publication of rare material and previously unpublished material, including the pictorial and oral history and the film collections. Some of them may be published in facsimile editions, but much of it is unique. At the moment it is little known to the Australian public at large and I think that the Committee would agree that these materials ought to be directly available to the people of Australia and that the program to get them available in time for the bicentenary should be undertaken at an early date. Indeed it should be undertaken now. It will be looking for the kind of support that is referred to in clause 12.

The National Library of Australia has shown in the past that it has the ability to carry out such a program. There is a definite need for a special program not only for the matter to which I have referred but also for publications of the future. The National Library also has plans to take up again publications of historical records of Australia. These were initiated in the past and they are still in print and available. Furthermore, they are important and heavily relied upon as a primary source of Australian history used by students now; they are also put together for students in the future. Under clause 12 the publication of these new volumes would include material from new collections from State archives and from other libraries as well as overseas repositories.

The final proposal that the National Library of Australia has for its bicentenial publications is to publish records relating to the Federation of Australia. This is of particular historical significance. The papers relating to Federation, which we have in the National Library, would embrace the records of several inter-colonial conferences, Federal conventions and Federal leagues as well as Federal debates. I think it is important to point out that the bicentenary is only 12 years before the Centenary of Australian Federation. In this program of proposals to be undertaken by the National Library, $3. 5m is involved as its total amount. I will not go into the details of the break-up of the various components, but the National Library council has agreed that it will be seeking funding in relation to bicentenial publications and its bicentenary program and it will be seeking some funding from what it called in the resolution 'outside agencies '.

Therefore, I hope that the Minister will respond to my inquiry to indicate that the Authority will look not only at the works of the National Library as far as the bicentenary is concerned but also at the program of the Australian National University. These are different from some of the programs that have been outlined during the second reading stage of this debate but I place emphasis on both of them. I relate them to clause 12 of the Bill because they are a facet of Australian life that will be very important as we move towards the bicentenary. They will be of use and value not only to the community at large and to students, but also, as at the time of the bicentenary in 1988, there will be considerable emphasis on our history, culture, literature and on the whole realm of communication between the peoples of our country. Therefore financial and other encouragement and support, as outlined in clause 12 of the Bill, not only will be appreciated but also will be necessary.

I speak to this clause and invite the Minister to give some indication whether the clause as it is set out within the Bill will involve the Authority in taking an initiative to speak with the two bodies I have mentioned. I quote the words of the Bill which reflect the speech which the Minister made last yean

.   . in the promotion of the objects of the Authority or the exercise of the powers of the Authority . . .

I hope that the Minister and the Government will give practical support to the points which I have made.

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