Monday, 29 February 2016
Statements by Members
The Evening News of 20 December 1899 reports of a 'mishap' at Fort Gellibrand battery in my electorate. The battery was undertaking target practice and, while warning signals were deployed at sea, the locals of Williamstown were not informed of the imminent shelling. In the event, a cricket match between the Williamstown and Malvern second XIs was called to an abrupt halt as a shell from an 80 pounder gun hit the field. The cricketers promptly decamped to the battery to object. As the Evening Standard reports the encounter:
At first the military officials indignantly resented intrusion during practice, and asked by what authority the cricket officials had entered. The reply was that the strangers had as much right to enter the battery enclosure as artillerymen had to shoot on to a cricket ground.
I can recount this story here today thanks to the National Library of Australia's Trove website that aggregates and digitises Australian historical material—newspapers, documents, pictures, videos and sounds, from libraries, museums, archives and other research organisations—and gives every Australian the tools to explore and contribute to its expansion. Trove is an important national asset of the digital age; it is invaluable to the historians, journalists and genealogists who are continually retelling the story of what it means to be Australian.
It is a worldwide model for innovation in digital preservation and sharing of historical and cultural material. It is a public good of the digital age and a crucial part of our national information infrastructure. Yet today Trove is at risk by virtue of short-sighted funding cuts by the Turnbull government. Unless funding is preserved, Trove will cease aggregating content and we will all lose access to a crucial part of our national memory and our national soul.