Tune Review of National Archives attracts thoughtful submissions on the future of this important cultural institution

Update 24 February 2020: Jenny Hocking in Griffith Review on the ‘Palace letters’ from 1975 and other issues to do with the Archives.

The National Archives of Australia is being reviewed by former senior official, David Tune, on behalf of the Australian Government. The review is looking at

  • the enduring role of the National Archives in the protection, preservation and use of Commonwealth information;
  • how the National Archives might best perform this role; and
  • what powers, functions, resources, and legislative and governance frameworks the National Archives needs to effectively and efficiently undertake this role in the digital age.

Honest History editor David Stephens made a submission to the review, as did Honest History alumni, Carolyn Holbrook, Michael Piggott, and Peter Stanley, along with many others including Bridget Griffen-Foley, Michael Kirby, Lyndon Megarrity, Tim Sherratt, and a number of historians’ and archivists’ organisations.

A paragraph from Mr Justice Kirby’s submission was particularly powerful:

I therefore urge your Inquiry to consider its task against principle of the democratic function of the NAA in holding up a mirror to the people of Australia based on the availability of records deposited with the National Archives particularly but not limited to, governmental and public records. At least in my case, the records are well organised, well filed, carefully assembled, updated, varied and of general public interest. But their utility will not be maximised if the records remain in boxes and are not made more generally available, where relevant, to researchers and experts, but also to private citizens (including those many thousands with whom I have interacted over my long public career).

8 July 2019 updated

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