Chapter 3—Report on performance

Developing and managing collections

Table 4 Summary of results against key performance indicators for Objective 2:
Develop and manage the collections, 2011–12
Key performance indicators Results Description
Implement year one of the Storage Plan. Mostly achieved The Collection Short Term Storage Scoping Plan was completed, and first-year measures were implemented. However, the de-accession and disposal component of the project was not fully completed.
Conduct one online program that promotes donations to the collection. Fully achieved The Great Badge Swap promotion attracted more than 500 offers of donations.
Implementation of recommendations from Acquisitions Committee processes audit. Fully achieved The audit made no recommendations.


The Collection Short Term Storage Scoping Plan was completed in July 2011. The plan describes the collection storage situation, assesses the storage in terms of risk to both the collection and the staff that regularly work in storage spaces, and outlines a four-year implementation schedule that includes measures to improve collection storage.

The first task in the schedule was to see whether the efficiency of the storage spaces could be improved by rationalising the collection. All objects in the heritage collection were assessed against certain criteria, such as significance, current and potential use, current condition, and storage/use risk. This project was monitored through the Senior Management Group, the Heritage Actions Committee and the Acquisitions Committee. Based on the assessments, a list of recommendations was drafted as required by the Collection Management Policy and procedures. The de-accession and disposal process will be completed in 2012–13.

A collection relocation project alleviated overcrowding in the under-Chambers storage areas. Additional collection storage space was identified in the Senate Lower Floor area. Rooms were fitted out with racking and insulating polystyrene panels installed in window and exterior door cavities. These panels are not fixed to the building’s heritage fabric, are easily removable and are not visible from outside the building. The project also formed part of a longer term evaluation process to improve the environmental stability of storage areas. Monitoring and data collection will assess the effectiveness of the window treatment and the need for mechanical control methods such as air conditioning, with the goal of reducing recurring energy costs

Collection development

The Museum of Australian Democracy seeks to build a unique collection of material that relates to political movements in which Australia or Australians played a part, or that places Australia’s history as a democracy into a global context. During the year, the collection was expanded through both purchases and donations.

Badge swap initiative

Badge with the motto ‘Woman’s place is in the house and in the senate’. The badge dates from the 1970s and was donated by Diana Pittock. As part of the Great Badge Swap, Diana donated numerous badges which she had worn in support of causes such as the environment, Indigenous rights, social equality, gay rights and nuclear disarmament. She wore this badge to show her support for women’s rights.

‘Woman’s place is in the House and in the Senate’ badge—1970s Badge donated by Diana Pittock. As part of the Great Badge Swap, Diana donated numerous badges which she had worn in support of causes such as the environment, Indigenous rights, social equality, gay rights and nuclear disarmament. She wore this badge to show her support for women’s rights.

In July 2011 the agency launched the Great Badge Swap, an initiative aimed at generating badge donations for the Living Democracy exhibition and increasing general awareness of the museum.

The initiative was promoted through advertising in the museum and via a dedicated website. Members of the public were invited to donate badges that they had worn at significant times in their lives, and the stories behind them, to become part of the Living Democracy exhibition and the museum’s permanent collection.

By the end of August 2011, more than 500 badges had been offered for donation. As a result of the strength of the response, the advertising and media campaign, originally intended to continue for 12 months, was suspended; the dedicated website remained live to receive further donation offers, and the program also continued to be promoted in the museum. The associated advertising and media activity generated 13 radio stories nationally and 981 microsite visitors.

Acquisitions Committee

In accordance with the Collection Management Policy and Procedures, the Acquisitions Committee assesses all proposals for new acquisitions for the collections. The committee approved the addition of 420 objects to the collection during the year.

A review of the Acquisitions Committee and its activities was completed during the year as part of the ongoing internal audit program. The review found that the committee was operating effectively, and made no adverse findings or recommendations for amendment to the committee’s activities or procedures.

The committee’s membership is shown in Table 15 in Part 4 of this report.

Acquisitions and loans

A detailed list of items added to the collection during the year is in Table 5. All proposed additions to the collection were assessed by the Acquisitions Committee and approved by the delegate. Acquisition highlights included:

  • a ceremonial certificate and cigar box belonging to Prime Minister Billy Hughes in the early part of the twentieth century
  • a Knight Grand Cross insignia and collar, and a Privy Councillor’s uniform, all worn by Australia’s first prime minister Edmund Barton
  • a sculpture by artist Penny Byrne titled ‘Saint Kevin 07 and the Real Julia’
  • a rare pamphlet titled ‘Women’s Suffrage in New Zealand and Australia’, dated 1907 and produced by a British suffrage group to promote votes for women in Britain
  • a rare book by Algernon Sidney, Discourses Concerning Government, dated 1698, a powerful statement of the radical republicanism and democratic ideals for which Sidney was executed in 1683
  • an 1838 report on the Myall Creek massacre, presented to the British House of Commons in 1839
  • three political cartoons (two recent works by Peter Nicholson, and one dated 1888 by Bulletin cartoonist Phil May), donated by Dr Barry Jones
  • four framed posters relating to women’s struggle for the vote in Britain and in Queensland, donated by Dr Dale Spender
  • a message stick and message book covered in kangaroo skin used during the 2011 Freedom Ride, which took place to commemorate the 1965 Freedom Ride in support of Indigenous rights
  • a collection of election material donated by Campbell Newman relating to his recent campaigns for Lord Mayor of Brisbane and Premier of Queensland
  • a wig and gown worn by various Clerks of the Senate, last worn by Harry Evans from 1988 to 2009, donated by the Department of the Senate.
Table 5 New collection items, 2011–12
Description Date
Acquisitions: Australian political and parliamentary history
‘Massacre of the French King. La Guillotine or the Modern Beheading Machine at Paris. By which the Unfortunate Louis XVI (Late King of France) Suffered on the Scaffold, January 21st, 1793’. A poster by William Lane which includes a graphic illustration of the execution, details of the death sentence and the order of proceedings on execution day. 1793
Scrimshaw powder horn engraved with an early form of the Australian coat of arms, made during the 1830s or 1840s. 1830s or 1840s
Federation medallion created to support the push for Federation. It features a map of Australia and six stars representing the states. 1899
Suffragette stockings worn by British suffragette Elizabeth Wright in the early 1900s and embroidered with the suffragette slogan ‘Votes for Women’. Early 1900s
Ceremonial uniform, including jacket, hat and trousers, worn by Edmund Barton as Privy Councillor. 1901
Knight Grand Cross insignia and collar worn by Edmund Barton as Australia’s first Prime Minister. 1902
Two original drawings by Claude Marquet: ‘The New Labor Party’, 1916 (anti-conscription campaign) and ‘Federal old age pension’, 1908. 1908–16
Original suffrage badge produced by the British suffrage organisation the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies, in the colours red, white and green. c. 1909
Portrait plaque of John Redmond. Redmond was an Irish activist who travelled in Australia, urging Irish Australians to contribute to the Irish national struggle for home rule. 1914
Picture frame featuring the Austro-Hungarian coat of arms and the word ‘Australia’, believed to have been made in 1916 at the Holsworthy Internment Camp by an Austrian-Australian prisoner interned during the First World War. 1916
Ceremonial certificate and cigar box belonging to Prime Minister Billy Hughes in the early part of the twentieth century. The certificate was presented to him on his triumphant tour of the UK in 1919. 1919
Portfolio of 14 lino cuts titled ‘Eureka 1854–1954’, dated 1954, made by artists of the Melbourne Popular Art Group. 1954
Painted stool and boomerang made by Indigenous activist and artist Bill Onus. c. 1960s
Pauline Hanson One Nation Meritorious Service medal. It was probably produced by the One Nation party for hard-working staff. Styled on the shape of a Maltese cross, the medal evokes Hanson’s close links to Queensland as well as her strong nationalism. c. 1998
Painting by Indigenous artist Daniel Boyd titled ‘Captain No Beard’. In a series of works from 2005 on, Boyd has depicted Captain Cook, Governor Arthur Phillip and King George III in satiric images which mirror eighteenth century portraits of the men. 2007
Portrait of Julian Assange by prominent Australian street artist Ha-Ha. 2010
Sculpture by Penny Byrne, ‘Saint Kevin 07 and the Real Julia’. 2010
Two T-shirts relating to issues raised by the ‘Convoy of No Confidence’ protest held outside Parliament House on 22 August 2011. 2011
Acquisitions: Australian Prime Ministers Centre Research Library
‘The Humble Petition and Addresse of the Officers of the Army, to the Parliament of the Common-wealth of England’. This petition was written after Richard Cromwell’s forced dissolution of Parliament in April 1659 with effective power passing to the Army. It sets out the Army’s requirements, all embracing republican and egalitarian notions. 1659
‘The Very Copy of a Paper Delivered to the Sheriffs’, by Algernon Sidney. Sidney’s famous statement from the gallows, in which he denounces tyranny and promotes government for the good of the people. 1683
Discourses Concerning Government, by Algernon Sidney. This rare book, published posthumously, had a strong influence on the American Revolution and is a powerful statement of the radical republican and democratic ideals for which Sidney was executed in 1683. 1698
Collection of pamphlets relating to the Birmingham Political Union, a key organisation in the push for political reform in Britain in the 1830s, particularly with regard to the rise of Chartism, which itself had a profound impact on the development of Australian democracy. 1830s
New South Wales Political Papers from 1838 to1843, by William Bland. A rare bound collection of political pamphlets written by the surgeon and parliamentarian William Bland for the Australian Patriotic Society. 1838–43
Report on the Myall Creek massacre of 1838 titled Australian Aborigines. Copies of Extracts of Despatches Relative to the Massacre of Various Aborigines of Australia, in the Year 1838, and respecting the Trial of their Murderers. [London], Ordered by the House of Commons to be printed, 1839. 1839
The Subjection of Women, by John Stuart Mill. One of the classics of feminist literature. Mill was a co-founder of the first women’s suffrage society, which developed into the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies. 1869
New Italy, by Frederick Clifford. A rare book about the Italian emigrants from the Veneto tricked with promises of freedom into participating in the Marquis de Rays’s fraudulent New Ireland colonisation scheme. 1889
‘Women’s Suffrage in New Zealand and Australia’, pamphlet published by Vacher & Sons (London), for the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies, England. 1907
Selection of handbills relating to women’s suffrage in Britain, including a pamphlet titled ‘Enfranchisement of Women’ (1909), a pamphlet titled ‘Votes for Women’ (1910), and a small collection of leaflets on equal pay, equal opportunities etc (1910). 1909–10
Two suffragette items: ‘Australia’s Advice. The Debate in the Australian Senate on the Votes for Women Resolution’, 1910; and an anti-suffrage Christmas card, ‘Votes for Women and lots of ‘em this Merry Christmastime’, c. 1912. 1910, c. 1912
Australia AD 2000, or, The Great Referendum, by S.G. Fielding. Describes the political struggle between the Christian Party and the Materialist Party. 1917
‘Australia: The World’s Curiosity Shop’, pamphlet by Norman Pearce in which Pearce elaborates on his loathing and contempt for Australian Aborigines. c. 1924
Sheet music titled ‘Dawn of the Capital’, produced at the time of the opening of the Provisional Parliament House. 1927
Selection of handbills and posters from the 1930s relating to the fight against bolshevism and communism in Australia. 1930s
Song sheet for ‘Colonel Campbell and Mister Lang’, by John Quinlan, satirical musical composition about the famous opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. c. 1932
‘The Married Woman: Is She a Person?’, anonymous feminist publication arguing for the rights of married women to work. Thought to be the work of South Australian feminist Amy Grace Wheaton. 1935
The Book of the Ages: a Centennial Story of Melbourne and Adelaide, by Robitt Clow. Includes discussion of First World War conscription debates and of Canberra. 1937
‘On the Battlefields of Russia Democracy will Live or Die’, transcript of a speech delivered by Charlie Chaplin at Madison Square Park via ‘long-distance telephone’. Chaplin pleads the case for a ‘Second Front’ and immediate aid to Russia. 1942
‘Forming the Liberal Party of Australia: Record of the Conference of Representatives of Non-Labour Organisations, Convened by the Leader of the Opposition, Rt Hon RG Menzies, and held in Canberra, ACT, on 13th, 14th and 16th October, 1944’. Booklet. 1944
Page from Wembley Stadium visitors book for the 1946 Rugby League final, featuring signatures by Prime Minister Ben Chifley and British Prime Minister Clement Attlee. 1946
Canberra, National Capital: A Prophecy is Fulfilled, book with words by Nancy Wakefield and photos by Max Dupain. 1949
‘The New Theatre League Proudly Presents Six Men of Dorset’, advertising flyer for a production mounted in Sydney to commemorate the Tolpuddle Martyrs. 1965
Original cartoon by Bulletin cartoonist Phil May, dated 1888, relating to Henry Parkes and Chinese immigration. Donated by Barry Jones. 1888
Pro-conscription poster, 1917. Poster reads: ‘Reinforcements. Our scrap of paper. “We will fight to the last man and the last shilling—Andrew Fisher’’. Honor it, Vote Yes Referendum’. Donated by the National Library of Australia. 1917
Cutthroat razor and poster of racehorse Phar Lap relating to the work of the provisional Parliament House barber Cecil Bainbrigge and his association with Speaker of the House Archie Cameron. Private donation. c. 1930s and 1950s
Law testamur and two ministerial commissions once the property of Harold Holt in the early part of his career. The law degree was awarded in 1932 and the commissions in 1949. Corporate donation. 1932, 1949
Portrait of Harold Holt as Minister for Immigration by Bulgarian migrant Kameo Yonchef. This is probably the earliest portrait of Holt painted during his public life and appears to have been a gift to him from the artist. Private donation. 1950
Menzies campaign leaflet from the 1954 election. Donated by James Jupp. 1954
Collection of branded material from the Women’s Electoral Lobby (WEL), including two T-shirts, a canvas bag and four badges. These are examples of fundraising for the WEL and have personal connections to an active campaigner for women’s rights. Private donation. 1970s
Port bottle (empty). Label reads ‘Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific Port’. Bottled and labelled by the Brunswick branch of the Australian Labor Party. Donated by a staff member. c.1970s–1980s
‘Fifty Famous Australian Women’, International Women’s Year exhibition, 1975. Donated by Elizabeth Boesel, former Parramatta City Councillor, who produced, mounted and toured this exhibition. 1975
T-shirt featuring the slogan ‘A Pardon for Ned Kelly’, which was part of a campaign by communist activists in the 1980s to have Ned Kelly pardoned, at the time of the centenary of his execution. Donated by a staff member. 1980s
Collection of objects (helmet, site pass), photographs and correspondence relating to the move from the provisional Parliament House to the new Parliament House, c.1988–89. Donated by John Cure, Director of the 1988 Parliament House removal team. c.1988–89
Two original framed cartoons by Peter Nicholson from 1989 and 2000 dealing with issues within the Hawke and Howard governments respectively. Donated by a staff member. 1989, 2000
T-shirt worn by activist Albert Langer in the early 1990s relating to his involvement in the Neither! campaign. Donated by Kerry Craig. Early 1990s
Three framed posters relating to British female suffrage campaign and exhibition. Donated by Dr Dale Spender. 1992
Crystal bowl given to former Member of Parliament Kathy Sullivan in March 1999 by then Prime Minister John Howard to celebrate Sullivan becoming the longest-serving woman member of parliament. Donated by Kathy Sullivan. 1999
Original framed serviette from a dinner in 1999 to commemorate 70 years since the election of the first woman elected to parliament in Queensland, Irene Longman. Donated by Dr Dale Spender. 1999
Collection of gifts, programs and office requisites given to delegates to the Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) meeting at Brisbane, Queensland, in March 2002. The collection includes booklets, badges, pins, photographs, bags, mugs, biros and T-shirts. Donation from the CHOGM organising task force. 2002
Three wine bottles with political labels: a ‘Kevin 07’ brand champagne (2007), a fundraising bottle from the Australian Democrats (2002) and one from the Australian Republican Movement (c. 2005). Donated by John Warhurst. 2002–07
Collection of ‘refugee hearts’. The refugee hearts originate from the ‘Field of Hearts’ project which took place on United Nations World Refugee Day, 20 June 2003. Donated by Sylvia Liertz of the ACT Refugee Action Committee. 2003
‘Your Rights at Work’ badge. Produced by the Australian Council of Trade Unions as part of a campaign in the wake of changes to national workplace relations laws by the Howard Government in 2005. Donated by Sandra Bunn. c. 2006
Australian Electoral Commission ‘toolbox’, mostly from 2007. Collection of material from the Australian Electoral Commission used in the organisation of federal parliamentary elections. Donated by the Australian Electoral Commission. 2007
‘Kevin 07’ car flag from the 2007 federal election campaign. Donated by Michael Richards. 2007
Twelve original cartoons drawn by Warren Brown during filming for ‘The Prime Ministers’ National Treasures’ series. Donated by Film Australia. 2007
Collection of election campaign items (caps, T-shirts, stickers) relating to Campbell Newman’s campaigns for Lord Mayor of Brisbane and Queensland Premier. Donated by Campbell Newman. 2008-12
Large wall hanging showing coloured extracts from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was displayed at the National Human Rights Consultation community meetings, and two National Human Rights Consultation committee promotional pull-out banners. Donated by the Human Rights Branch, Attorney-General’s Department. 2009
Ken Wyatt campaign T-shirt, 2010. Ken Wyatt was the first Indigenous person elected to the House of Representatives. An inscription on each side of the shirt reads ‘Ken Wyatt—Liberal for Hasluck—Active, dedicated and qualified’. Donated by Ken Wyatt. 2010
Collection of election leaflets and pamphlets from Ken Wyatt, MP, produced for his campaign in the 2010 election. Donated by Ken Wyatt. 2010
T-shirt featuring Julia Gillard on the front and Tony Abbott as ‘Mr Rabbit’ on the back. Private donation. 2010
Message stick and message book covered in kangaroo skin that were used during the 2011 Freedom Ride which traced the journey of the original Freedom Ride in 1965 in support of Indigenous rights. Donation from the Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. 2011
Silver model sailing ship presented by the Indonesian government to Doug Anthony while he was deputy prime minister as a symbol of the Australian–Indonesian relationship. Donated by Doug Anthony. Date unknown
Tie featuring the logo of the National Party worn by Doug Anthony during or after his period as the party’s leader. Donated by Doug Anthony. Date unknown
Wig and gown worn by Clerks of the Senate, last worn by Harry Evans (1988–2009). Donated by the Department of the Senate. Various

A total of 5 new loans, 8 returned loans and 30 renewed loans were processed, while 67 ongoing loans were maintained.


The agency counts all its assets annually to ensure the accuracy of data, to check impairment and to meet its stewardship responsibilities. This involves two processes:

  • stocktake of the heritage furniture
  • stocktake of the remaining departmental and administered assets.

Effective stocktaking continued to improve the quality and accuracy of the agency’s collection data. This year’s stocktake saw the counting of 3,765 objects from the heritage and associated collections, with four teams of three staff members working together to confirm the existence of items and record their locations and conditions.

Top of page