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RECORDS-MANAGEMENT-UK  March 2010

RECORDS-MANAGEMENT-UK March 2010

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Subject:

RMAA COMMUNICATION - Approved Media Release regarding merger of Archives New Zealand and the National Library

From:

Marian Hoy <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Marian Hoy <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 30 Mar 2010 09:03:04 +1100

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (50 lines)

Posted on behalf of David Pryde, Chair of the Records Management Association of Australasia (RMAA)

Dear Members and friends,
 
I have just released the following media statement in regard to the announcement of the New Zealand Government's intentions to merge the National Library, Archives New Zealand and the Department of Internal Affairs.
 
The cabinet papers http://www.ssc.govt.nz/mog-cab-paper-march-2010 supporting the decision contain a number of issues that we feel the Records Management Association of Australasia (RMAA) must contest within the public domain. I know that I can count on your support.
 
David Pryde
Chair
****************************************************************************************************************** 
 
Media Release
25th March 2010


 State Sector Merges – “1998 Battle Lines are Drawn Again”

The Records Management Association of Australasia (RMAA) is both appreciative and supportive of any government initiative that reduces the burden on the public purse yet improves its quality of service. However after evaluation of the Cabinet Papers, released after yesterday’s announcement by the State Services Minister, Mr Ryall of the impending merger of the National Library and Archives New Zealand (ANZ) into the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA), the RMAA has serious concerns with issues raised in the papers and some that are not dealt with.

We disagree with the advice of the “officials” (item 43) and challenge their view on the independence of the Chief Archivist without the need for a separate archives department. Without the authority that independent office necessitates or the bureaucracy to support and enforce decision making, then the Public Records Act 2005 may succumb to the same fate as its predecessor, the generally ignored Archives Act 1957.

The key role of Archives New Zealand is as custodian of the documentary evidence of government in New Zealand (its conscience) that traces its decision-making and transactions from before the first elected representatives. Through this stewardship, public confidence in the transparency and integrity of public records is enhanced through access to these records that have been created and maintained to international standards.

The RMAA and other records and information management professionals are united in the belief that removal or reduction of this independence of the Chief Archivist will seriously undermine the public confidence that Archives New Zealand has built. The former National Government’s 1990 plan to reduce the then National Archives of New Zealand to the level of a state historiography unit within Department of Internal Affairs was soundly condemned by Dr Michael Cullen, M.A., PhD., M.P., historian and then Deputy Leader of the Opposition, during a speech to the 1998 annual conference of the Archives and Records Association of New Zealand (ARANZ).

“The independence of the New Zealand Archivist should be clearly defined in the statute. The Archivist would be the chief executive of the New Zealand Archives, directly accountable to a Minister. Neither the Archivist nor the Archives should be part of another agency or in any way subject to it.

One reason for that is so simple and overwhelming that I am surprised it has not been mentioned more often. That is that the New Zealand Archivist must have the power over other heads of departments in relation to the disposal and transfer of records subject only, perhaps, to strictly defined and time-limited security provisions. That function is not consistent with any kind of subordinate role”.

While independence of the Chief Archivist and the retention of Archives New Zealand are our first concern, the recommended amendments to the National Library Act 2003 and Public Records Act 2005 did not go by unnoticed (item 79). RMAA members who are public servants have a vested interest in these amendments and their impact on the future of the PRA 2005.


The desire to be innovative, to utilise technology to provide world class, state services to the public is admirable, but to be successful the information and knowledge base has to be in place – accurately captured, maintained and disposed of correctly. 

There are too many issues, opportunities and inaccuracies contained in the Cabinet papers to discuss in this forum – but rest assured that the RMAA is resolved to bring them to the attention of the Minister, the profession and the public who utilise these services.

David Pryde
Chairman
Records Management Association of Australasia
25th March 2010

Website:  www.rmaa.com.au 
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