Inside track for War Memorial expansion project: Public Works Committee inquiry commenced

Update 9 May 2020

On the point about the two processes [Heritage and Public Works Committee], note that there will be 20 business days for public comment on ‘final preliminary documentation’ from the War Memorial on heritage aspects of the project, followed  by time to allow a decision by the Minister for the Environment, Sussan Ley, or her delegate. Even if the War Memorial documentation is posted on Monday next [11 May 2020], that timetable will extend well into June. Meanwhile, the Public Works Committee wants submissions to be in by 17 June. These compressed and overlapping timetables are a blot on good public administration.

A media release from the Public Works Committee announces the commencement of the Public Works Committee inquiry into the Australian War Memorial’s $498m expansion program. Canberra Times story.

We noted recently that out-of-Parliamentary-session referrals (by the Governor-General in Executive Council) to the PWC were rare, although quite legal under the PWC Act. Our close monitoring of this project has previously pointed out that the project received a Government tick outside the normal Budget timetable and that the level of cost assurance for it was less than the standard Department of Finance requirement. Sacred cows tend to trot down the inside track.

Submissions to the PWC have to be in by 17 June, though there is no indication yet when the Memorial’s own submission will get to the PWC and be posted on its website. Update: 2.50pm AWM submission now posted. Public hearings will follow. (Update 9 May 2020: Canberra Times letters exchange.)

Essentially [the PWC website says], the Committee is required to report as expeditiously as practicable on:

• the stated purpose of the proposed work and its suitability for that purpose
• the need for the work
• the cost-effectiveness of the proposal
• the amount of revenue it will produce if the work is revenue producing the current and prospective value of the work.

Meanwhile, a separate Heritage inquiry is under way (reference no. 2019/8574), although, again War Memorial documentation is not yet available.

Individuals and organisations wishing to make a submission to the PWC will find plenty of useful information in the Heritage Guardians campaign diary. See particularly:

David Stephens for Heritage Guardians (contact 0413 867 972;

6 May 2020 updated

Members of the Heritage Guardians committee 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;
  • Dr Sue Wareham OAM, President, Medical Association for Prevention of War.




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