The cash-strapped National Capital Authority and the national institutions in the Parliamentary Triangle that are subject to ongoing funding cuts should be able to keep the $17 million a year proceeds of paid parking, according to Chief Minister Andrew Barr.
Speaking at a Legislative Assembly committee hearing on event management, Mr Barr said the NCA was not properly funded and was trying to generate more revenue from the use of national land, including charging the ACT higher fees for events.
But Mr Barr told the Standing Committee on Economic Development and Tourism that the NCA did not have the resources to maintain land sufficiently and the ACT was pushing back, focusing on arrangements where ACT funds are being used to improve the amenity of sites.
“I need to be blunt, sometimes the quality of the product they want us to pay top dollar for is not there,” he said.
“The solution I am proposing is that the NCA be allowed to keep the proceeds of paid parking within their precincts, and that that be available to them to reinvest in the maintenance.”
Mr Barr said the money, which at present goes into the Commonwealth’s consolidated revenue, would be a significant amount for the NCA, and for each of the national institutions within the Parliamentary Triangle.
“It would give them a very good incentive to encourage more visitors and more activity in the precinct, and they could reinvest that money,” he said.
“You know, it is a rounding error in the contact of the Federal Budget but it would make a massive difference to the NCA.”
But CEO of Australian Libraries and Information Association Sue McKerracher said the amount the institutions might receive from parking fees would be insignificant compared with their real needs, and warned the Commonwealth might even use it as justification for reduced funding.
“It will hardly scratch the surface of what our cultural institutions need to raise in terms of income over the next few years,” she told the ABC.
While not saying it was a bad idea, Ms McKerracher said each of the institutions in the Triangle needed $8-10 million a year extra, because of the ongoing 2 per cent efficiency dividend imposed by the Commonwealth across the public service.
“What we wouldn’t want to see is the Federal Government saying well that’s that job done, we don’t need to look at the efficiency dividend or put more money in,” she said.
Her organisation was calling for an exemption from the efficiency dividend so the institutions could stabilise and begin recovering so they could do the work that’s not being done.
She said without change the nation’s history would not be collected or made accessible.
Institutions such as the National Archives and the National Film and Sound Archive were running up against a 2025 deadline for the digitisation of film, which was deteriorating.
Ms McKerracher said the $498 million found for the expansion of the Australian War Memorial showed a bias towards that institution and felt out of balance, considering how poor the other institutions were.