Colour head shot of Katy Gallagher, current Minister for Finance.

Senator the Hon Katy Gallagher

Minister for Finance

Radio Interview - ABC Canberra

Minister for Finance
Minister for Women
Minister for the Public Service

Albanese Government secures funding future for Trove; Aston by-election; upcoming interest rate decision.

ROSS SOLLY, HOST: Great news today for the National Library with confirmation it will get $33 million over the next four years to help keep the Trove digital platform going. Katy Gallagher, good morning to you.


SOLLY: How are you?

GALLAGHER: I'm good, thanks. How are you?

SOLLY: Yeah, I'm good. Great to be back on the wireless, good to be speaking to you, especially with good news for the National Library.

GALLAGHER: Yes, so this is some news I think lots of Australians have been keen to hear, we've had lots of people petitioning, I've been getting lots of correspondence around this. But Trove was only funded to the 30th of June this year, meaning that on 1 July, they wouldn't have any funding to keep going. So this announcement today, and it'll be in the Budget, is to ensure that they have ongoing funding across the Budget, but actually beyond that, as well, that it's permanently funded now, as it should be as, you know, it's a big part of our collecting institution and accessibility for the public to be able to use some of those resources and things. So it's a good story.

SOLLY: We're hoping to speak to the National Library later on today. But for those who are coming late to this story, Senator Katy Gallagher, what is Trove, in fact?

GALLAGHER: Well, Trove is, and people can go on and use it if you like and have a look at it, I think it's If you go and have a look, I was having a look at it again last night. But it's basically digitised artifacts and stories from a whole range of areas. It's got 26 million newspaper pages going back, you know, right, well a long time, I don't know what the first date was, but you can go right back. And so from a historical point of view, from local community stories, all of those kinds of important things you can find and search through Trove. It's really, you know, a lot of researchers use it. But a lot of people use it to find out stories of their family, where they grew up, a whole range of things. So it's sort of got something for everybody there.

SOLLY: You said, that you think that this news will be welcomed by a lot of Australians. Do you think that's true, Katy Gallagher? Or do you think a lot of Australians might think why is Canberra getting this money when we can't afford to buy a house, we can't afford to put food on the table. Yet somehow the Government manages to find $33 million to prop up an institution in Canberra.

GALLAGHER: Well, I think in fact, a lot of the lobbying is coming from outside Canberra. So there have been some petitions and this is part of the story of the people that can't get to the Library, or, you know, want to search things that might be in Canberra, can actually search through on Trove. So I think there's petitions with more than 64,000 signatures on them. And I've had a lot of correspondence on this, probably the most correspondence I've had on everything, anything has been on Trove, and trying to find a solution for Trove. And you know, you'll see a bit of this in the Budget, Ross, where we're going through and finding these programs that just have this funding cliff on the 30th of June and we're having to work through, work out what the actual need is and how to afford, how to find the money to make sure they keep going. I mean, I think it would have been an absolute tragedy and negligent decision if we just allowed this to happen on the 30th of June.

SOLLY: Yeah, and I think most Canberrans and most listeners this morning would agree with you. I was wondering though if it's a tough sell, maybe not so much for Trove, because it is an online resource which people can access from all over the country all over the world, and why wouldn't they? But for the broader picture of our national institutions, and I know that I'm sure there's money forthcoming for the National Gallery, etc. Is that a tougher sell, Katy Gallagher, to the rest of the nation?

GALLAGHER: Look, I don't think so. I think people value our collecting institutions, I think even if you don't live in Canberra to hear the stories of water dripping through the National Gallery and the roof being destroyed on National Library and the time it's taken to fix that and, you know, some of the issues at Questacon and you look around most of the collecting institutions, I think people are genuinely concerned when they hear stories like that. And I think there's an expectation that we do what we can to address it. You know, these aren't, you know, in a way Canberra is the custodian of the national story and our national history. But it's there for everybody and working out how to share that across the country, I think, it's something the NCIs have been working on for a long time, but in order to share it, they have to protect it and at the moment we're at risk of losing, you know, valuable items or having them damaged and the Gallery and the institutions not being able to do the basics of what they need to do. So, yes, we've been working with Tony Burke's office, and departments to work out what the right decision is here. And we'll finalise that shortly.

SOLLY: Another question, though. Why was the funding, this is from Helen, why was the funding refill left so late? Surely something could have been mentioned earlier, have enduring funding without this last minute rush. And the same can be said for the National Museum and the archives.

GALLAGHER: Well, the Budget is in May. And so we've been working on the Budget since, really since October or November last year. And you know, we've been going through it, I think in pretty fine detail about what's needed. I mean, we've obviously only been in Government for 10 months, and we're having to clean up a fair bit of mess that's been left in the Budget. So this isn't on its own. There's, as I said, there's going to be a number of things in the Budget where we've been trying to work through how we deal with these funding cliffs in a pretty constrained Budget. So, you know, I think we've been working on it for months. But yes, the announcement is close to, I think people have been worried about that 30th of June deadline. But this is really the time that we would make that announcement in the May Budget and we are doing it a bit early to give people that certainty.

SOLLY: You mentioned, Senator, that Trove goes back a long, long way with their newspaper clippings, etc. I wonder if they go back far enough to the last time an opposition party lost a federal by-election, which was 1920. Hard to believe, Katy Gallagher, what is going on? I'm giving you a chance here to give your appraisal of what is happening with the Liberal Party and why it is so on the nose at the moment.

GALLAGHER: Yeah, well, I think people, my assessment Ross, is people want Government to get on and deal with, you know, the problems they face. They want to see a Government that works hard, and they are bit tired of all the conflict and the bickering and you know, I think what we're seeing is because the Opposition is taking this very obstructionist, oppositional approach, which is say no to everything, I think they're a bit tired of it. And I think they're a bit tired of some of these wedge issues that keep getting tossed up. Every time there's a by-election or a national campaign of some sort, or even a state campaign where some of these, you know, divisive issues are played for political purposes. And I think people are genuinely sick of that. And, you know, if we look here in the ACT, where we've seen, you know, the Liberal Party hasn't been in Government since 2001. You know, where you see that shift to the right or shift on some of these issues that don't reflect, you know, community sentiment, people don't support you. And I think we saw it in the Victorian election, we're seeing it in this incredible victory. And I don't want to say, those remarks without acknowledging that when you have a candidate that's been living in the electorate, working in the electorate, raising their family in the electorate, you know, and people can relate to them, the power of that candidate and the campaign she ran. So you know, a lot of it's down to Mary Doyle. But there is this other side where we're seeing, you know, a political party that's kind of shifting and lurching more to the right and not focusing on the issues that matter to people.

SOLLY: Final question for you, Senator Katy Gallagher, as the Finance Minister, the Reserve Bank meets again this week. Do you think it's enough is enough now, do you think the workings of the economy and are working in favour of maybe putting the brakes on the interest rate rises?

GALLAGHER: Well, we'll leave that to the bank tomorrow. So they'll make their decision to –

SOLLY: But you've got your finger on the pulse of the national economy, though, and on what's happening out there in the neighbourhoods?

GALLAGHER: Well, it's an independent decision, Ross, so we don't really speculate on what that decision might be. I think the Reserve Bank speaks for itself, it issues its minutes and you know, the report that will come with a decision tomorrow, where we'll explain what it's doing. And I think in the last month, they identified that they, you know, the possibility of pausing was considered, but we'll leave that to them tomorrow. I think the job for me and the job for Jim Chalmers as we finalise the Budget is to make sure that the decisions we're taking, including like looking at how we can provide cost of living relief and all those things, works alongside the Reserve Bank and doesn't make their job harder. And so that's the focus that I'm concentrating on at the moment as we tried to finalise the Budget in the next couple of weeks.

SOLLY: Senator Katy Gallagher, good to talk to you this morning. Thank you for your time.

GALLAGHER: Thanks very much, Ross.