Heritage Guardians says, ‘Oppose the unnecessary and inappropriate $498m War Memorial project: final chance to have your say’

From Heritage Guardians, a community campaign against the $498m, 2.4 hectares extensions to the Australian War Memorial

This post invites readers to register with the National Capital Authority as a Key Stakeholder in the Authority’s consultations on development in Canberra. (The NCA is the Australian government body responsible for planning in the National Capital.) Readers do not have to be resident in Canberra to register.

The NCA Works Approval process is the final hurdle the War Memorial project needs to clear. So, this is the final opportunity to oppose the project.

Why register and why are we asking you?

Registering ensures your opinion will be sought when the Australian War Memorial refers its extensions plans to the NCA for Works Approval. This is not expected until May or June, but it is important to have as many people as possible register as Key Stakeholders well before then. There is likely to be considerable media interest in the NCA process.

How to register

You can register as a Key Stakeholder here (scroll down to link ‘Click here to become a Key Stakeholder’). That page explains the NCA’s community consultation arrangements; you can be a Key Stakeholder as an individual or as a representative of a group.

Once you are registered as a Key Stakeholder the NCA will seek your views on projects that come before it for approval. Heritage Guardians’ main focus will be on the NCA’s consideration of the War Memorial project as a whole, although the Authority may also look at ‘early works’ associated with the main project.

We will keep readers advised and alert them when the main project is up for consultation.

Background: a two-year battle

You can follow here the history of the Heritage Guardians campaign. We have argued, among other points, that the project will change the nature of the War Memorial and that the money would be better spent on direct benefits to veterans and their families.

We have seen two of the three necessary approvals for the project:

  • A decision by Minister Sussan Ley under the heritage provisions of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. There were 167 submissions to the War Memorial on this project, 58 per cent of them opposed to the project. The government’s own principal advisory body, the Australian Heritage Council, and the heritage experts in the Minister’s department expressed serious concern at the heritage impacts of the plans.
  • A resolution of the House of Representatives endorsing a report from the parliamentary Public Works Committee that there was a need for the project. The PWC has very narrow terms of reference. There were 77 submissions to the PWC inquiry into the project, three-quarters of them opposed to the project. This was by far the largest number of submissions on a PWC inquiry since it first convened in 1913. Two members of the Committee lodged a dissenting report, rare in PWC history.

The NCA process remains. It will be extremely difficult to stop the project, largely because the Prime Minister in November 2018 gave it the government’s endorsement and announced funding for it. The approval processes since then have largely been window-dressing but Heritage Guardians still believes there is a point to continuing the battle. High-profile opposition will be noted by history.

Any questions?

If you have any questions please email me admin@honesthistory.net.au or phone 0413867972.

David Stephens

Convener, Heritage Guardians

8 March 2021 

Heritage Guardians runs a community campaign against the War Memorial project. Its members are:

  • Brendon Kelson, former Director, Australian War Memorial
  • Dr Charlotte Palmer, committee member, Medical Association for Prevention of War (ACT Branch)
  • Professor Peter Stanley, UNSW Canberra
  • Dr David Stephens, Editor, Honest History website; convener, Heritage Guardians
  • Dr Sue Wareham OAM, President, Medical Association for Prevention of War.

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