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Thursday, 21 June 2018
Page: 3684


Senator MOORE (Queensland) (19:02): This afternoon in the Mural Hall, the National Library brought along some of its special treasures to share with the people in our Parliament House. It was a really fitting afternoon. Our National Library visited our national Parliament House and shared with us some of the most wonderful, inspiring pieces of personal diaries, personal belongings and some fantastic oral histories, and just teased the people in Parliament House with the wonders that are available to us just down the road at the National Library.

One of the special pleasures I have had from this parliament in the last term is that Minister Fifield appointed me and Mr Julian Leeser from the other place as the parliamentary appointees to the National Library's council. It was a special joy for me. I have loved the National Library as long as I can remember. It was a joy to have the extraordinary opportunity of working on this council and working with people from across the community who are dedicated to promoting the wonders of the National Library and the services that it provides to all Australians. It also protects and ensures that we remember our history. That will always be a very special part of my time in this place.

Earlier this year, the librarian Dr Marie-Louise Ayres and the board—with its chair, Ryan Stokes, whose tenure as the chair of the National Library's council ends in July—decided that we would have a showcase of just a couple of the special treasures to share with us in this place what was available. I have no idea how the wonderful team at the Library chose what to bring with them. Anyone who had the opportunity this afternoon would have seen the collection of artworks, the wonderful documentation and the special treasures from the Cook gallery. As you all know, there is an anniversary for Captain Cook coming up very soon. There will be a very major display present at the National Library talking about Captain Cook, his past, his contributions and why he has such a special place in the creation of our nation. There were many things there linking with that experience.

I particularly want to mention some of the treasures of the Bessie Rischbieth collection. Bessie Rischbieth is a woman who is not known particularly well in the Australian community, except in Western Australia. She was a strong advocate for women's rights who totally believed in the issues around women's empowerment, and she had the opportunity in the early 1900s to be in England around the time of the suffragette demonstrations and marches. At that time, Bessie had the opportunity to meet with people who were involved in that process and over many, many years she made a personal collection of some of the most extraordinary elements of the suffragette struggles and the possessions of the people who were involved in them. She has collected diary notes, documents—wonderful memorabilia of the suffragette process. If you have the chance between now and early August, please visit the National Library. In the Treasures Gallery you'll see some of these very, very special memories that Bessie collected.

I think that she always had the hope that sometime in future there would be a place where her collection could be displayed to show such an important part of our history: the fight to have the vote. It caused many women, and their supporters who were not women, to put this cause well above their personal comfort, their personal security and, in some cases, their personal safety. They ensured that this struggle never left the public gaze, and though it took way too long and many, many years, finally the suffrage was won.

Out of that came this wonderful collection that shows the personal engagement of women. When you have the opportunity to look at some of the badges that were worn by the women during the marches, the diary notes, the letters that they wrote and the artwork that was around at the time, you feel as though you have a personal knowledge and experience of the women themselves. Whilst I have a very particular interest in this issue, I don't think anyone could remain unmoved by looking at and hearing about the personal experiences of women who were involved in that process.

So, in terms of the value of our National Library, we just had that sneak peek this afternoon, which I hope will encourage more and more people to visit the library and see the wonderful services that they offer. A number of the parliamentarians who attended talked about the wonderful Trove program. I think, in our wider community, there are not many people who are interested in history or research who are not absolutely familiar with Trove. It is an exceptional program, which has been the beneficiary of donations from a series of governments to ensure that we do have this wonderful, internationally renowned resource. It allows access to so many documents through our national library system. I could see a number of the parliamentarians busily taking notes to learn more about how they can access this process much better in the future.

Another thing that was featured in this afternoon's display was the particular interest that the National Library has in our Aboriginal and Islander background and history. It's a particular interest of the library. They have a wonderful range of resources that look at the papers and documentation of our personal history in this nation. They have invested significant resources into ensuring that there are specialist Aboriginal and Islander staff members at the library who can bring that knowledge and ensure that all of our people have the opportunity to access the resources that they have. I think that's something that will remain in the library plan into the future.

I really want to thank the number of people from the library who were involved in bringing this display to the building today. When you actually saw how much they brought you could see the mechanics of choosing the items and transporting them, because they are very valuable. The safety and security of these provided some worry for everyone who was involved, but to see the joy of both the people who attended the session and the people from the library who brought their treasures to share made the afternoon worthwhile. I really hope that this will be the beginning of a series of exchanges.

You know, Madam Acting Deputy President McCarthy—and we have talked about this before—one of our many parliamentary friends groups is the Parliamentary Friends Of Museums, Libraries And Galleries. They pride themselves on being called GLAM—they must have worked for hours to come up with that acronym!—but they are very active. The co-chairs are Luke Gosling, the member for Solomon, and Senator Paterson. They're going to be working on trying to ensure that we have much more exchange between our national treasures—the galleries, the museums, the libraries and this place—because we all share a commitment to our history and a commitment to making sure the community has access to these wonderful places that don't belong to us; they belong to the whole of Australia. We can build that access and build those links.

Thank you to Marie-Louise Ayres and to Ryan Stokes, who gave a resignation speech today. I think we're all sad to see the end of this particular part of his contribution as a very caring, professional and engaged chair of the council. I think that, for the people who had the joy of attending, it will mean that they will know much more about their library and go to visit and see what can be provided to them just down the road.

Senate adjourned at 19:10