M.A.D.E: Politicians say council must support museum

POLITICIANS, federal and state, believe the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka (M.A.D.E) must receive further council help and funding in order to survive current financial woes.

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But the leaders including federal MP Catherine King have said closure or changing its basic focus from Ballarat's iconic rebellion would be a mistake.

The news comes after The Courier this week revealed the contents of a confidential report outlining the musuem's financial woes since its opening almost one year ago.

The report stated M.A.D.E's operating costs had been about $29,000 a week, with income currently around $6200 a week.

The Courier contacted several politicians to gauge their knowledge and opinion on the issue.

All expressed concern over M.A.D.E's financial situation and future, urging the council and M.A.D.E board members to work together.

"I urge council to maintain their commitment to the museum" - Catherine King

Premier Denis Napthine, referring to a press conference he gave in Ballarat recently, said the state government was "disappointed" M.A.D.E was having financial problems, adding a sustainable economic future was needed. 

"This is a matter we'll have ongoing discussions with the Ballarat City Council about," Dr Napthine said. 

The confidential report, which the council mistakenly published online, also referred to plans for altering the museum's operations to potentially gain more income.

Ms King said that proposal was a bad move.

"While it is a concern that council are considering alternative options for the museum, it is important in the year of the 160th anniversary of the Eureka rebellion to honour its story as a defining moment in Australia's journey towards democracy," Ms King said. 

"I urge council to maintain their commitment to the museum and ensure this iconic story of our democracy and our region is told into the future."

Labor MP Geoff Howard said the council should be responsible for M.A.D.E's future funding.

"But this does not mean it should not attempt to seek external funding from other sources," he said. 

"Council and the M.A.D.E board have primary responsibility but they should continue to discuss future plans and concerns with the state and federal governments to assist them to finalise operational decisions."

Senator Michael Ronaldson was overseas and could not comment, however a spokesperson for the senator said: "Ongoing decisions regarding the management and funding of MADE are a matter for the board and the City of Ballarat."

patrick.byrne@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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