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Honest History E-Newsletter No. 63, 27 May 2020: Special Edition

ISSN: 2202-5561 ©

Public Works Committee (PWC) Inquiry into $498m Australian War Memorial expansion program

For the last 15 months, Honest History and Heritage Guardians have made the case against the War Memorial expansion project. A summary of our arguments is below. Readers wishing to make a submission to the PWC Inquiry might draw upon these arguments.

Submissions close on 17 June; how to make a submission.

Arguments

The Australian War Memorial’s $498 million extensions should not proceed.

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

Excessive veneration of the Anzac story denies the richness of our history, as presented in our many cultural institutions.

The Memorial has been treated most generously by successive governments and has suffered less from the ‘efficiency dividend’ that has damaged other institutions.

The Memorial wants added space to display more of the big artefacts representing recent conflicts, and to ‘heal’ veterans. Much of the Memorial’s extended space will be taken up with a grandiose foyer and space to display decommissioned planes and helicopters, which do little to promote an understanding of Australia’s wars.

Cultural institutions around the world can display only a small proportion of their holdings at any one time. They must make difficult decisions about display priorities. The Memorial should do the same, rather than push for additional space.

The extensions will destroy the Memorial’s character, affect its Heritage status, and entail the demolition of Anzac Hall, opened in 2001 and winner of the 2005 Sir Zelman Cowen Award for public architecture.

The planned direct feed of current Defence Department activities is totally inappropriate in a war memorial.

Finally, the project has been pushed through with a minimum of public consultation, outside normal budgetary processes, and in advance of necessary approvals from the Public Works Committee and the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (heritage matters).

Further arguments

These can be found in our campaign diary. See particularly the individual posts listed here.

Questions

If readers have questions, please direct them to Heritage Guardians at admin@honesthistory.net.au.