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Turnbull, cuts and the culture of forgetting

Andrew Thackrah writes in ABC’s The Drum (29.2.16) about Turnbull Government funding cuts to cultural and collections institutions, such as the National Library and National Archives. He argues that the government’s ‘concerted’ push for fiscal efficiencies puts our collective national memory and heritage under threat.

‘While championing the “ideas boom” and the value of entrepreneurship, the Turnbull Government’s old-fashioned fiscal approach is threatening our history and cultural identity.

‘Apparently, “there’s never been a more exciting time to be Australian,” or so states the Turnbull Government’s online portal for the National Innovation & Science Agenda. In case the message wasn’t clear enough, the portal goes on to proclaim: “Welcome to the most exciting time in Australia’s history. Be part of it now!”

‘It’s impossible, of course, to scrutinise such rhetoric without a window into Australia’s history. Yet, in stark contrast to this marketing spin, the Turnbull Government is making a concerted effort to close that window by attacking some of the most innovative tools that enable Australians to access their past, assess their present, and scrutinise their political leaders.’

In neglecting the National Archives, the Morrison government turns its back on the future

Judith Brett writes in The Conversation (16.6.21) about the funding crisis threatening the future viability of the National Archives, suggesting that the institution’s neglect is a sign of the Coalition government’s ‘truncated temporal imagination’.

‘Why didn’t the federal government increase funding for the National Archives of Australia in its recent budget?

‘We know it wasn’t because of budget discipline. Money was splashed around on all sorts of worthy causes. And the emergency funding to save film and magnetic tape recordings from disintegration was modest: A$67 million over seven years.

‘Nor was it because a scorn for history is in the Liberal Party’s DNA. The party’s founder, Robert Menzies, was a history buff. His library, which is the centrepiece of the newly established Robert Menzies Institute at the University of Melbourne, is full of books of history and biography.

‘… While I do not think the neglect of the archives is a deliberate move in the culture wars, it is evidence of the Coalition’s truncated temporal imagination. This is in part an occupational hazard of politicians with their eyes on the electoral cycle. But it is also evident in the difficulty too many of the Coalition have in understanding what climate scientists have been telling them about the future, so they focus on present costs as if future costs will never arrive.’

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