On 22 March 2017 the Copyright Amendment (Disability Access and Other Measures) Bill was introduced to Parliament. The Bill will end perpetual copyright for unpublished materials. As a result millions of historical manuscripts will be freed into the public domain on 1 January 2019.
The Australian Libraries and Copyright Committee's Press Statement on the tabling of the Copyright Amendment Bill ─ Captain Cook's Diaries Free Thanks to Copyright Bill ─ is available at: http://libcopyright.org.au/media/captain-cooks-diaries-free-thanks-copyright-bill
According to the statement “The Bill ends antiquated provisions in the Australian Copyright Act that provide perpetual copyright for unpublished materials, no matter how old they are. As a result millions of historical manuscripts - from celebrity letters and diaries held by the National, State and Territory libraries and archives, to the thousands of theses at our universities - will be simultaneously freed into the public domain on 1 January 2019. This bounty will be a major boon for Australian artists, researchers, teachers, innovators and historians, as they gain access to materials that were previously locked unuseable behind overly strict copyright law.”