Heritage Guardians submission now posted on Public Works Commission site asks some important questions about the mysterious genesis of the $498m War Memorial project

Heritage Guardians’ submission to the Public Works Committee inquiry on the Australian War Memorial project has been posted on the PWC site as Submission No. 40. (Earlier Heritage Guardians submission.) It opens thus:

The Memorial can meet its obligations without continuing with the project.

The Memorial should manage within its existing space – and make hard decisions about how to use it.

The Memorial’s ambition to provide a ‘therapeutic milieu’ for recent veterans is inappropriate and misguided – and a smokescreen for its demand for space to display planes, helicopters, and other retired military equipment.

A summary of the submission is at the foot of this post. The submission includes 14 recommendations, asking the Committee to pursue particular lines of inquiry. Some of the recommendations focus sharply on the murky process by which this project has developed.

Other strong submissions include No. 5 Richard Broinowski AO, No. 8 History Council of WA, No. 13 Penleigh Boyd, No. 15 Heritage Guardians collective submission (reported yesterday), No. 17 Stewart Mitchell, No. 23 Ray Edmondson, No. 24 Douglas Newton, No. 25 Steve Gower AO, No. 26 Brendon Kelson, No. 37 Chris Barrie, No. 38 Geoff Ashley (Ashley Built Heritage), No. 39 Peter Stanley, No. 42 Roger Pegrum, No. 44 Martin Bonsey, No. 48 Medical Association for Prevention of War Australia, No. 61 Australian Institute of Architects. All the submissions are worth reading, however, including the few who support the project.

Media coverage has been extensive: David Stephens on ABC News 24; The Drum; Brendon Kelson on 2CC; Canberra Times; The Riot ACT (lively comments); even Miranda Devine in the Daily Telegraph (pay-wall but here’s a picture) who reckons we are anti-Anzac. (She confuses her Kelson and Nelson.) Mirage News on ACT Greens opposition. Canberra Weekly.

The 69 submissions (not including the AWM’s proponent submission) now lodged on this project are by far the most lodged on any project dealt with by the PWC in at least the last 30 years; the previous best in that time was 22. Our progressive count is that just 12 out of the 69 support the project, while 57 oppose it.

This project has got as far as it has partly because of lack of attention from the public (apart from Heritage Guardians) and the Parliament. The PWC inquiry and, it is to be hoped, public hearings should change that. (Public hearing to be held on 14 July.)

David Stephens

David Stephens is editor of the Honest History website and a member of the Heritage Guardians committee.

17 June 2020 updated

From the Heritage Guardians submission

Summary

The Memorial can meet its obligations without continuing with the project.

The Memorial should manage within its existing space – and make hard decisions about how to use it.

The Memorial’s ambition to provide a ‘therapeutic milieu’ for recent veterans is inappropriate and misguided – and a smokescreen for its demand for space to display planes, helicopters, and other retired military equipment.

Much of the new space will be used to display large technology objects, particularly planes and helicopters, serving as a convenient advertisement for their manufacturers.

The money would be better spent on direct benefits to veterans and their families, and on other cultural institutions.

The extensions will destroy the Memorial’s character, affect its heritage status, and entail the demolition of the award-winning Anzac Hall.

The Memorial’s process for choosing between options has been murky and confused.

The deletion of Anzac Hall from the plans is shrouded in mystery and needs close examination.

The Campbell option is many times more expensive than providing the same services at Mitchell.

There have been glaring process deficiencies in the Memorial project, particularly relating to how much money was available.

The Memorial’s consultation has been haphazard, deceptive, and careless, and has lacked transparency.

The Memorial has given the impression that the project is a fait accompli, even though heritage and Public Works Committee approvals are still pending.

Must the ‘Anzac cloak’ nullify accountability?

 

Share this with others...Share on Facebook
Facebook
Tweet about this on Twitter
Twitter
Email this to someone
email
Click here for all items related to:
To comment or discuss, Register and Log in to Honest History.

Leave a Reply

Loading...