Stephens, David: constructing emotions (centenary spend)

Stephens, David

Constructing emotions: Australia leads world in WWI commemoration spend‘, Independent Australia, 19 May 2015

(This is an updated version of the piece here, dated 12 May.)

The recently (re-)announced $100 million for a hi-tech museum in France is just the tip of the Anzac centenary spending iceberg (though the Australian government seems strangely reluctant to keep a tally of the spend – the minister seems a little defensive, presenting the centenary spend as a tiny percentage of the overall Veterans’ Affairs budget)*. Honest History reckons the total cost of Australia’s commemoration of the Anzac centenary now stands at more than $550 million — and it will go higher as corporate donations come in. Even at the current level, that is more than twice the total Great War commemoration spend of every other country in the world combined. It seems a rather odd thing to be leading the world in.

* Now that we look at it, there seems to be an error in the minister’s statement. ‘Annually’, says the minister, ‘government spending on commemoration represents less than 0.1 per cent of the entire $12 billion Department of Veterans’ Affairs’ budget for pensions, compensation and health care treatment for veterans and their families’. Now 0.1 per cent of $12 billion is $12 million, which can’t be right: the Anzac Centenary Local Grants Program is $18 million on its own. Perhaps the minister ‘mis-spoke’ and meant to say 1.0 per cent, which would make the figure $120 million which kind of works as an annual figure. If the figure is wrong in the minister’s media statement it is still wrong in the proof Hansard (p. 88). We’ll ask.

STOP PRESS 21 May 2015: the error is to be corrected. Details here.

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