I recently (3 September) attended an ALIA function at the Victorian Parliament, to celebrate the Redmond Barry Award given to the late Bruce Chamberlain MLC, a good friend of libraries, both local and parliamentary. It was a good function, and reminds us of the consistent support given to ALIA by parliaments, and the possibilities of future support too. There are two members of the Victorian Parliament who are former librarians (should I say that? - perhaps once a librarian, always . . .) They are Andrea Coote, MLC for Southern Metropolitan and the deputy opposition leader in the Legislative Council, and Judy Maddigan, the MLA for Essendon and a former speaker of the Legislative Assembly.
Barry Jones, a previous winner of the Redmond Barry Award (1996), was there, and I was reminded again of his support for libraries and for the free flow of information when I read his piece in the Australian on Wednesday 5th September. He referred in that article to many of the issues which librarians regard as important. He deals in particular with anti-terrorism legislation: "Terrorism will continue to damage open societies until we understand how to eliminate its causes ..."
On a related tack, there is currently taking place an independent audit of the state of free speech in Australia. Australia's Right to Know is a coalition of Australian media organisations. Their campaign was launched in May and the coalition has commissioned the independent audit; it is is chaired by Irene Moss, with Peter Timmins as deputy chair. A recent speech by Irene Moss (August 29) sets out the basis of the audit.The Democratic Audit of Australia, run out of ANU, is another body which has taken up these issues, as is Electronic Frontiers Australia.
If you are interested in being involved in developing an ALIA contribution on these issues, let me know, or post a comment to this blog.