Archives storage ‘still a goer’ 

THE Mayor has poured cold water on suggestions Goulburn has tried to secure the National Archives preservation office.

That office has ruled out relocating here due to ‘prohibitive costs’ and practicality, The Canberra Times reported on Friday.

Extending a fibre optic link to the government communications network would cost $10 million alone, National Archives assistant director Cheryl Watson told Parliament’s public works committee.

She predicted extra costs from staff reductions and security and accident risks arising from transporting requested search documents from Goulburn to Canberra.

The Archives’ Mitchell building is running out of space and management wants to lease a purpose built facility.

The council recently committed $150,000 to a business case for an archive and storage facility for Goulburn.

Mayor Geoff Kettle, Deputy Mayor Bob Kirk and general manager Chris Berry have met state and federal authorities, convincing them of its merits.

The business study, to be undertaken by Lateral Project and Development Pty Ltd, will back a grant funding application to Regional Development Australia.

On Friday Cr Kettle rejected suggestions Council hadn’t done its homework, saying the National Archives was not a “target”.

“We have never sought them out,” he said.

But he wasn’t prepared to reveal the archival centres in the mix. Consultants had requested this information remain “commercial in confidence” at this stage.

“But there are a number of state and federal agencies and cultural institutions (that are being targeted) that are in trouble with their storage,” Cr Kettle told the Post.

A scoping study by the same firm had established these facilities could make significant savings by coming to Goulburn, he argued.

Southern Distribution Hub project manager Bob Stephens has previously addressed the same public works committee, talking up the business park’s potential to house part of the National Archives.

The mayor recently told the Post there were no ‘done deals’ over a site, saying several, including the old RDM building, were potential locations.

The council is banking on RDA funds for the project and will not be kicking in substantial amounts of its own money. Cr Kettle says Council is simply a “facilitator”.

RDA round three funding has $50m available for councils and not-for-profit organisations, while round four offers $175 million.

The mayor acknowledged stiff competition but said if unsuccessful, the business case would be used in other funding applications.

“I’m comfortable because it can be used to progress the archival storage facility or decentralisation of other initiatives,” he said.

“It is broad and we will use it to keep knocking on the doors of state and federal agencies.

“…We’ll wait and see where this goes but there’s nothing to say state and federal governments can’t put money directly into this.”

Cr Kettle will continue the push in meetings with state ministers in Sydney on Wednesday.

The great unknown is the cost.

The scoping study has estimated an amount but Cr Kettle did not have this at hand.

The RDA funding request will be governed by the business case.

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