Noel Butlin Archives Centre

Update on recent developments

Friends of the Noel Butlin Archives Centre
Media Release
15 February 2001

A step forward for Archives, at last, but only a first step

The Friends of the Noel Butlin Archives Centre welcomed the decision by the new Vice-Chancellor of the ANU, Professor Ian Chubb, to increase the 2001 funding of the Noel Butlin Archives Centre, which is the largest non-government archives in Australia that preserves the archives of some of the nation's largest and historically important companies as well as those of many trade unions, including the ACTU. These records are unique and are an integral part of the national heritage.

A spokesperson for the Friends, Dr John Merritt, said, "We are delighted that Professor Chubb will make $100,000 available for the NBAC in 2001 in addition to the $150,000 already in the budget. Funding beyond 2001, however, will depend on the Archives meeting certain conditions. As we understand it the Archives will have to position the ANU's custodianship of the NBAC as a business and labour archive in the national interest. Professor Chubb will want to see evidence of national usage and plans for future viability, including fundraising. The Vice-Chancellor seems to have understood that the Archives is an important national institution and that it can help considerably in restoring the 'national' focus to the Australian National University."

"The $100,000," Dr Merritt went on, "will make it possible to restore the two positions to be cut under the current plan for the Archives, which has been criticised so widely by the academic and archival communities. The plan to cut the staff to two and bury them in the basement of the Menzies Library would have crippled the Archives and made it moribund."

"Funding since 1998 has been cobbled together from a variety of non-recurrent sources. This soft money gives no guarantee of permanency for the institution. Permanence and stability are a fundamental requirement for the restoration of the national status of the Archives," Dr Merritt explained.

"What ultimately has to be done is for the ANU to take up its national responsibilities in regard to this invaluable national resource. The ANU should either fund the Archives properly and on a permanent, recurrent basis or else the University should hand the Archives over to someone who will," Dr Merritt concluded.

For further information contact:
Dr John Merritt, FNBAC Representative on the NBAC Advisory Committee. (Ph 02 6236 9317; e-mail:
Ms Rosemary Webb, President, FNBAC. (Ph.02 6291 9656; e-mail:
Mr Barry Howarth, ACT Division Secretary NTEU. (Ph. 61254665 (w), 62924473 (h); e-mail

Posted: 16 February 2001