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Kate Lundy: how wrong can you be?

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Senator Lundy's claim that the 2003-04 Budget strips Australia's cultural institutions of funds shows how little she understands her own backyard.

With a little bit of homework, Senator Lundy would realise that no government has done more for these vital organisations than the Howard Government.

A simple examination of the funding levels for the five national cultural institutions - the National Archives of Australia, the National Gallery of Australia, the National Museum of Australia, the National Library of Australia and the Australian National Maritime Museum - would help her to understand how badly Labor failed the cultural sector.

In 1995-96 - the last year of the Keating Government - total funding to these organisations was just $115.851 million dollars.

In the 2003-04 Budget, these institutions will receive $204.884 million dollars.

An increase of $89.033 million - or 76%!!!

To further expand the activities of our collecting institutions, this week's budget also announced enhancements to their depreciation arrangements.

Broadly, the Government will be replacing depreciation funding for long-lived cultural assets with preservation funding. This provides the institutions with more flexible and sustainable arrangements for the preservation of our national collections.

And the net financial result of this initiative? Overall, appropriation to all the national cultural institutions from 02-03 to 03-04 - INCLUDING THE ADJUSTMENTS FOR DEPRECIATION - rises from $202.720 million to $204.884.

How, Senator Lundy, can you possible say with a straight face that the Government has stripped these institutions of funding?

CANBERRA 15 May 2003

Media contact: Richard Wise Minister's Office 02 6277 7350 or 0438 204 554