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Australian culture protected from cuts

Media Release
Christine Milne 9 May 2012

The Greens have successfully protected Australia's National Gallery, Library, Museum, Film and Sound Archive and other cultural institutions from more jobs and service cuts through a $40 million grant primarily for digitising collections that completely insulates them from the Gillard Government's Efficiency Dividend.

"Australians are rightly proud of our National Gallery and people travel in their hundreds of thousands to visit Canberra's cultural institutions that record, reflect back and show off our great national culture to the world," Australian Greens Leader, Senator Christine Milne, said.

"These institutions, which are so critical to building a picture of who we are as a nation, were struggling terribly under the efficiency dividend and I am delighted that the government has agreed to protect them from its impact with this $40 million grant."

In Senate Estimates hearings earlier this year, the National Gallery, National Library, National Film and Sound Archive and National Museum each detailed significant cuts in jobs and services they had undertaken in order to meet the 1.5% efficiency dividend.

"We heard a story of cutting and postponing exhibitions, reducing cataloguing and digitising of collections, increasing charges for inter-library loans, reducing services and public events, and cutting staffing to below levels needed to fulfil their basic obligations.

"With the roll-out of the NBN, digitising our cultural collections is a fantastic boon for people all around Australia, especially school-children and older students who can get access to these great collections from wherever they are.

"Our national cultural institutions are vital to our nation's identity and educating the next generation. They are also a key part of the ACT's economy, helping make our capital the vibrant city it is.

"While we're proud of this big step, the Greens will keep the pressure on to take the pressure off the institutions and the public service more broadly by relaxing the efficiency dividend which is now seriously impacting on the government's ability to deliver services."


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