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Penny Wong accuses National Library of abandoning crucial Asian collections

The federal opposition has accused Australia’s National Library of abandoning crucial Asian collections due to a lack of federal government funding, warning the move acts against the national interest.

Labor’s foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong and arts spokesman Tony Burke called on the federal government to intervene and reverse the National Library of Australia’s decision last week to cease collecting material on Japan, Korea and mainland south-east Asia.

Labor senator Penny Wong fears federal government budget cuts are forcing the National Library of Australia to limit its Asia collections.

Labor senator Penny Wong fears federal government budget cuts are forcing the National Library of Australia to limit its Asia collections. Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

“In a time where Australia should be looking to improve and expand our engagement in Asia, the NLA’s decision is alarming, and is counter to our national interest,” Senator Wong and Mr Burke said in a letter to Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Minister for Communications and the Arts Paul Fletcher.

The library closed its Asian collections reading room late last year and warned its staff they could be made redundant in a major restructure to be completed this year.

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