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Speech on National Library Underfunding

On Wednesday 29 March 2023, I made a speech in Federal Parliament calling on the Government to properly fund the National Library to ensure it can continue to provide important public services such as Trove. You can watch the speech here or read the full transcript below.

E WATSON-BROWN: The National Library is pleading that without additional government support it's going to be forced to shut it's incredibly important and popular resource Trove by July. Trove is the free online service that provides public access to collections from Australian libraries, universities, museums, galleries and archives. Many in Ryan have contacted me, very concerned, as Trove is essential to them. The numbers tell the story: Trove has more than 22 million visits per year and is one of only two Australian government websites in Australia's top 15 global internet domains—the other is the ABC.

This threat to the public's access to nationally significant collections is emblematic of the decades-long bipartisan funding starvation Australia's national collecting institutions—not just inconvenient but undemocratic. The arts minister mentioned at the Woodford Folk Festival that financial decisions about the cultural institutions weren't going to be dealt with at the January culture policy announcements, and he mentioned it again recently in parliament and media interviews, so I hope that means they will be dealt with in the upcoming budget. I implore the minister and the government to properly fund this important resource or we will be seriously abandoning the researchers and writers, the family historians, the school students, and everyone needing access to this incredible cultural archive.

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