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National Capital Authority releases key documents relating to its approval of early works application from the Australian War Memorial

Update 4.30 pm Sunday 4 July 2021: Anzac Hall starts to come down (pic: Fiona Scott)

More pictures of trees coming down and bulldozers going in.

Heritage Guardians sent this email this afternoon to the Director, Australian War Memorial:

Director

Bulldozers at Fort Campbell on a Sunday afternoon! No matter how you folks try to spin this it is a shameful end to an appalling process to progress a project that does the memory of 102 000 servicemen and women no honour at all.

David Stephens for Heritage Guardians

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Update 5 July 2021: They have no shame, no shame at all. Here’s a War Memorial press release on the ‘deconstruction’ of Anzac Hall. And here’s a quote from Alice in Wonderland which sums it up:

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”

Wikipedia

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In response to a request from Heritage Guardians, the National Capital Authority has made available by administrative release copies of:

Background.

In the second document, this is of particular note: ‘This approval does not prejudice the NCA’s consideration of any other Works Approval matters related to the site’. On one hand, this could be seen as standard NCA speak – the Authority said the same in its 2019 decision on the carparking work at the Memorial (see the penultimate paragraph) – but, on the other, there are these words in the Authority’s consultation report:

Many people [in the consultation process] queried how the NCA could approve these early works and the demolition of Anzac Hall in particular, prior to the approval of the works that will [be] constructed in the future. The NCA acknowledges this concern but can assure the community that it has been actively reviewing the evolution of the larger design and providing critique and direction as the AWM has been developing the major works packages. This engagement has provided the NCA sufficient confidence regarding the overall character of the major redevelopment works to enable approval of the Early Works package (page 11; emphasis added).

And in the Public Record of its meeting of 2 June (scroll down to pdf):

The NCA had good knowledge of the overall project and confidence that the final project will not depart significantly from the plans and details of the overall project available at this time (page 2).

So, the early works approval decision does not prejudice any future decisions on the main works, but knowledge of the main works feeds into the decision on the early works. Is that a virtuous circle or a vicious one?

It certainly seems like another reason why the Authority should have considered the early works and the main works as a single package. Meanwhile, the Memorial’s contractors have felled the trees at the rear of Anzac Hall, prior to knocking over the Hall itself.

David Stephens

4 July 2021

(Pic: Fiona Scott)