Update 9 October 2020: Analysis of Memorial’s Final Preliminary Documentation.
Update 1 October 2020: Parliamentary Library’s quick guide to the issues. It is out-of-date in one key respect (encroachment on Remembrance Park is not now part of the plan: need for amendment was advised to author 1 October) but manages a reasonably balanced coverage from limited sources.
As regular readers of the Heritage Guardians campaign diary will know, the Australian War Memorial and the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE, responsible for heritage matters) have been moving (ponderously but inevitably) to an assessment of the Memorial’s ‘final preliminary documentation’ against the heritage and environment provisions of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
If you relied on the information still on the War Memorial’s website, you would have expected the Memorial’s revised preliminary documentation to go to DAWE ‘late August/early September 2020’. As far as we can work out, based on information received from both the Memorial and DAWE, this documentation did go to DAWE in early September, but there has been further toing and froing between the Memorial and DAWE since then.
The Memorial’s website also says, ‘[t]he revised preliminary documentation, and the comments received, will also be published on our website at this time’, that is, late August or early September. That certainly did not happen, and still has not happened, as we consider the situation at the very end of September.
Here is what we know today, based on the most recent advice from the Memorial and DAWE:
- the Memorial and DAWE are working to finalise the preliminary documentation this week, that is, the week ending, Sunday, 4 October; Update 1 October late: material now posted here; Update 2 October: our guide to the material;
- the documentation will include the Memorial’s response to the 167 public comments it received;
- the documentation will also include the text of the public comments received, where publication has been authorised by the commenter;
- the documentation will be published on the Memorial’s website here, either this week or early next week;
- the availability of this documentation will be advertised and submitters will be advised;
- the documentation will be available to view for 10 business days and beyond that it will stay on the website at least until a decision has been reached;
- then, it is over to DAWE for a decision on the heritage impacts of the Memorial project. The statutory timeframe for an EPBC Act approval decision in this case is 40 business days. The Minister may extend this timeframe. Even at 40 business days this means a decision might not occur before end November.
Separately, there is the Public Works Committee inquiry into the project. There is no official estimate yet of when that report will be available, but there are parliamentary sitting periods in October, November and December when the report might be presented.
30 September 2020 updated