Stephens, David: Monash interpretive centre, Villers-Bretonneux (II)

Stephens, David

Monash interpretive centre (Immersion II of II): Public Works Committee dips toe in water‘, Honest History, 4 August 2015

The article considers further the proposal to build the Sir John Monash Interpretive Centre at Villers-Bretonneux, France, at a cost of almost $100 million. An earlier article analysed the submission from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to the Public Works Committee (PWC). This second article considers the PWC hearing on the project and has an appendix on how the project finds itself being paid for by the Defence portfolio. (Update 19 August: article on PWC’s report on the project.)

We find it difficult [the article commences] to treat this project as anything other than a massively self-indulgent and boastful boondoggle, replete with meaningless puffery and rash assumptions. The Public Works Committee (PWC) did its best, given its very limited writ, to examine the project, while recognising the die was well and truly cast by government decision, drawing its inspiration from a bright idea three administrations back. But the PWC couldn’t ask the key questions …

All the adjectives being tumbled out to justify this project may be indicative of something deeper than a need to impress the PWC. Is this project just another massive Aussie skite to First World countries? “The Little Boy from Manly” has become the Boxing Kangaroo, Rule Britannia has translated into “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi!”, but still the cry from Terra Australis is “Look at me! Look at me!”

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