Standing up for Canberra

Inquiry into Canberra's National Institutions

It has been a decade since the last comprehensive review into Australia's national institutions was conducted by the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit, with its very excellent 2008 'Size Matters' report. In that time, a lot has changed. A lot has changed on the media front: social media, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Yet a lot has remained the same, so it's time we take another look at the contemporary environment within which these organisations are operating. That's why, as Deputy Chair of the National Capital and External Territories Committee, I welcome the inquiry that we launched today.

I welcome the fact that the inquiry will look into and report on the range of innovative strategies that Canberra's national institutions are using to maintain viability and relevance to sustainably grow their profile, visitor numbers and revenue, including creating a strong brand, an online presence, experimenting with new forms of public engagement and audience participation, conducting outreach, cultivating private sector support, developing other income streams, ensuring the appropriateness of governance structures, and, most importantly, any other relevant matter the committee wishes to examine, including the process for establishing new institutions.

The terms of reference of the inquiry are broad—they are deliberately broad. They are intentionally broad so that we can ensure we have a clear read on the issues faced by our national institutions in 2018, in terms of funding, in terms of staffing, in terms of completing their legislative mandates to collect, to maintain, to preserve, to exhibit, to share, to engage, and to tell our national story.

I have been a strong advocate for these national institutions and I've been constantly calling out the government on the impact that its funding cuts have had on these institutions, our national collection. We should not pretend that these funding cuts to our national institutions are about cutting fat. We should not pretend that they're about cutting bone. These cuts run so deep that we are cutting now into vital organs.

So, I welcome the opportunity for the Canberra community to participate in this inquiry and to reinforce to the committee and to this government that it's only by properly funding our national institutions that we can ensure we have the exhibits and collections to share with the people of Canberra, to share with the people of Australia and to share with people from overseas.

After all, it is only by properly funding our national institutions that we will be able to retain the highly-competent, skilled staff we need to maintain and preserve our collections, and, through it, preserve for future generations our history, our story and our identity.

I encourage Canberrans to make submissions to the committee by Tuesday, 8 May, via the inquiry's website.