How can we have a knowledge economy if we don’t value knowledge?

by Elizabeth Handley

The National Innovation & Science Agenda of our Government has stated we are the innovation nation and they’ve set up a website to show how serious they are, What does it take to be innovative? I would have thought a good educational base, affordable skills training, accessible and high quality knowledge resources and strong support for innovation.

Our very successful TAFE system has been largely dismantled and replaced by an expensive and ineffective private system. The ABC and SBS, Australian centres of knowledge and creativity, are being constricted by ever decreasing funding.

The CSIRO is an international icon of scientific knowledge and innovation. It has created some amazing advances including Wifi, but it too has had its funding slashed.

Our medical research facilities, despite minuscule budgets, do world class scientific research.
But we are reaching crunch time. Our scientists and researchers have to spend as much time getting funds as doing the work.

Our best and brightest are moving overseas to find places that properly value and allow their work.

Our major knowledge institutions like the National Library, the National Museum, the National Film and Sound Archive and the National Gallery of Australia are all under threat of budget cuts.

Just two of the projects from the National Library that are threatened are Pandora and Trove. Pandora is Australia’s Web Archive which has had over seven million page views since its inception in 1996 and Trove is a collection of 463 million items (yes that number is correct) from Australian Libraries, Museums and archives, including digitised newspapers, which gets 70,000 unique visitors a day.

These are resources that are used by researchers and innovators now and into the future to understand our past and to plan for the future.

The National Library has said funding cuts will almost certainly necessitate reduced investment in these national storehouses of our knowledge and experience.

These are valuable resources that belong to the people of Australia. It should be a priority of our Government that these knowledge treasure houses are valued and properly funded.

Brisbane’s own John Birmingham was recently invited by the State Library of New South Wales to talk about our knowledge treasure houses and why they are so important. In this interesting 10 minute talk in the link below, John explains that, particularly in our dispersed digital world, the continued capture and safe storage of our national experience is vital for creating a truthful record of our history and our culture. digital

We should cherish these continually evolving knowledge resources that encourage and facilitate vision and innovation.

The CSIRO, the ABC, the National Library etc, they are all under threat. Every barbaric government in history has attacked knowledge and its dissemination. Shouldn’t an innovative nation be trying to do the opposite?

You can sign the petition to help save Trove on https://www.change. org/p/malcolm-turnbull-mp- stop-cuts-to-national-library-of- australia-save-trove.

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Image supplied by the National Library of Australia.