On 17 October, officers of the National Capital Authority made their twice-annual appearance before Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories and the following exchange took place (pages 4-5 of the Proof Hansard):
Mr SNOWDON [ALP]: I’m interested in the redevelopment of the War Memorial. What’s been your role in the planning of that redevelopment, and what are the issues that might be of interest to the community generally, as well as this committee?
Ms Barnes [Chief Executive, NCA]: The War Memorial expansion is obviously a major project. It’s one that has been supported by all sides of parliament. It’s a project being managed by the War Memorial. The NCA has an approval role. I’ll ask Andy to expand on the role we have.
Mr Smith [Chief Planner, NCA]: There is perhaps not a steering committee but a committee of bureaucrats who are working with the memorial as they advance this fairly significant project. [FOI material from that committee.] I’m a member of that committee, as are officers from the Department of Finance, Prime Minister and Cabinet, and Treasury. From a statutory approval role, we have to grant works approval to any proposal that’s developed on that site. When we do that, we look at the proposal, its qualities, whether it’s appropriate for the War Memorial, and the heritage issues associated with it, so as to ensure that the development is of a standard befitting that significant institution and that fairly prominent site.
Mr SNOWDON: Can you let us in on whether or not the footprint of the War Memorial may change substantially and what impact that might have on the visual aspects of it, say, from the front steps of Parliament House?
Ms Barnes: I think the War Memorial is going to be doing the works in four stages. They’re very conscious of making sure the vista up Anzac Parade remains and that that view is maintained. They’re doing thinking around works of a new entrance at the southern side—the side that looks down Anzac Parade—and doing works at the back of the existing building, but I think all of their works are considering the visual aspects to minimise any impact. They’re certainly planning to expand their exhibition space. We currently have a works approval out for public consultation for the building of a car park which will act as a car park for construction and then a car park as the construction comes to an end. [Consultation documentation.]
Mr SNOWDON: Where will that be?
Ms Barnes: Next to Poppy’s Café.
Mr SNOWDON: Up on the right-hand side as you’re facing it?
Ms Barnes: Yes. Their idea is to use that as the car park for construction workers and then later on, when the construction is finished, turn it into a visitors car park so people can actually park and get into the War Memorial much more easily and without getting—
Mr SNOWDON: So, as you’re aware of it, there won’t be any encroachment on the base of Mount Ainslie?
Ms Barnes: No. Originally there were some plans to put the car park in the nature reserve, I think, or there was an option there, but that’s been ruled out and the car park for the construction work will be on the War Memorial site and will become a permanent car park later on.
Mr Smith: In terms of that iconic vista towards the War Memorial along Anzac Parade, which of course is framed by the trees of Anzac Parade proper, the impact of the proposed changes on that vista will be assessed by the Department of the Environment and Energy. The War Memorial are intending to undertake an EPBC submission. So the impact on that heritage listing is going to be assessed not by the War Memorial and not by ourselves but by the Department of the Environment and Energy. That will focus largely on the impact of this proposal on the heritage values of the AWM.
Mr SNOWDON: I might suggest later that we contemplate inviting the War Memorial to come and talk to us.
CHAIR [Mr Pitt, National]: That’s an excellent idea.
30 October 2019