Announcement of John Howard collection UNSW–National Archives collaboration

A speech given by Director-General David Fricker at UNSW ADFA Library, Canberra Thursday 20 March 2014.

The National Archives is pleased to be partnering with the UNSW Australia to implement this new and exciting collaborative model of distributed custody of the national archival collection.

At the National Archives, we are committed to providing access to, and encouraging use of, these archival resources. Last financial year over 6 million records from our collection were accessed online through our website and nearly 100,000 records were viewed through our network of reading rooms around Australia and via the Archives' reference service.

The partnership we are announcing today provides another channel for access and it exposes the collection directly to a university audience.

Providing access to the records of government decisions is fundamental to the Archives’ role in delivering transparent and accountable government to the Australian community.

It is therefore pleasing to be able to put in place a model, where this significant collection of personal and government records of former Prime Minister Howard will be located here at the UNSW Australia Library – to be known as the John Howard Reading Room. And through integrated–linked data between UNSW Australia Library and the National Archives', RecordSearch will deliver a seamless research experience to Australians around the country, and the world.

The John Howard collection covers his entire political career dating back to 1974 when he first entered Parliament. The first tranche of records to be transferred to UNSW in May this year extends more than 90 metres and includes records from Mr Howard's early political career. The Archives will progressively transfer records over the coming years, with the first of John Howard's prime ministerial papers to become available from 1 January 2019, with the complete set available by 2028.

I think this period of time underscores the commitment by both institutions to this partnership, and the significance of this collection. John Howard's collection spans the last quarter of the 20th century, and the beginnings of a new century – a period of tremendous change, growth and evolution of Australia as a nation and its place in the world. It is important preserve this collection for the Australian community.

Noting Mr Howard's link to the UNSW, recognised last year with the awarding of an honorary degree (Doctor of Laws honoris causa) for significant service to the nation as Treasurer and the 25th Prime Minister of Australia (1996–2007), it is fitting that his collection should come to the UNSW Library in Canberra.

I would like to take this opportunity extend our thanks and appreciation to Mr Howard for signing the Deed of Gift with the National Archives of Australia that contributes his personal collection of records to the national archival collection – enabling this partnership with UNSW Australia and establishment of the John Howard Reading Room.

Ongoing preservation arrangements and access to the collection as governed by the Archives Act 1983 will ensure the John Howard collection remains available for generations to come.

Your story Mr Howard, is now part of our history. Thank you.

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2017