Kerry Stokes gets 12 more months on War Memorial Council – but will Tony Abbott step up as Chair?

Veterans’ Affairs Minister, Darren Chester, has announced that Kerry Stokes has been reappointed to the Australian War Memorial Council for 12 months. This short-term appointment – it’s usually three years – raises the question of whether there is a succession plan for the position of Chair of the Council. Mr Stokes turns 80 in September.

While members of the Council are appointed by the Governor-General (Australian War Memorial Act 1980, section 10), the Chair is elected by members of the Council (Act, section 11). By section 11(2) of the Act, Mr Stokes’ term as Chair ends tomorrow, the final day of his previous term as member, so he will need to be re-elected as Chair.

Or someone else – perhaps member Tony Abbott – might be elected instead, with Mr Stokes remaining on the Council to provide sage advice for the next 12 months. The Minister’s media release made a point of mentioning Mr Stokes’ work advocating the Memorial’s current extension program. An example.

Apart from Messrs Abbott and Stokes, the current Council is not full of potential Chairs, after experienced company director, Margaret Jackson, was not renewed at the end of her term in June. (Her position is still vacant.) There is, however, Reserve Major General Greg Melick, who is also National President of the RSL. Rear Admiral Ken Doolan (Ret’d) held both positions, Council Chair and RSL President, before Stokes’ term began.

Update 4 August 2020: Picked up by Fairfax media. (Need to scroll down a bit.)

David Stephens

2 August 2020 updated