NAA issues rules for archiving ministers' records

By Dylan Bushell-Embling
Thursday, 29 November, 2018

NAA issues rules for archiving ministers' records

The National Archives of Australia has issued new mandatory instructions for the management and archival of ministers’ records.

The General Records Authority 38 for Ministers of State lays out the records that ministerial offices must maintain as part of their mandatory obligation under the Archives Act 1983.

It lays out the requirements for keeping, destroying and transferring records of former and current government ministers and their staff.

The guidance makes clear that excluding personal, party political or electorate documents, all records of a minister's office are the property of the Commonwealth and therefore subject to the Archives Act.

These include briefings, final speeches, social media postings, media releases, portfolio-related correspondence, records of major decisions, ministerial diaries, itineraries and records of official visits.

National Archives Director-General David Fricker said the instructions were developed to address a poor understanding among government officials as to the scope of the Archives Act as it applies to such records.

“In a recent Senate Estimates hearing, it was made clear to me that there was little understanding among ministers regarding their obligations and responsibilities in relation to ministerial records. General Records Authority 38 will address this ambiguity, helping to restore the public trust in government and rebuilding faith in our democracy,” he said.

“'General Records Authority 38 ensures the records of Ministers and their staff are appropriately created, maintained and accessible. This clarification is particularly important now, as ministerial offices conduct more and more business on digital platforms... Protection of records — whether in paper or digital form — is the foundation of integrity, accountability and transparency of government decisions and actions.”

Image credit: ©castelberry/Dollar Photo Club

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