Villers-Bretonneux boondoggle construction contract announced

Update 26 December 2015. It is interesting that the Minister’s media release says nothing about the cost of the project ($A100m) but mentions employment and investment benefits in Picardy, France, where the project is located. Meanwhile, the Minister’s announcement has not yet found its way onto the website of the Australian Embassy in Paris.

Update 25 December 2015. The ‘taking out the trash’ tactic (see below) worked well for the Minister: after 48 hours, the only mentions of the Minister’s release were on the Honest History website, on Newsburst (a website that soaks up news releases from hither and yon), and on two ex-servicemen’s sites, which also soak up relevant news releases. As Honest History said on Twitter, if this is such a great project, why sneak out the announcement when no-one is listening?

Stuart Robert MP, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of Anzac, has just announced the awarding of a construction contract for the Sir John Monash Interpretive Centre at Villers-Bretonneux in France.

Honest History’s arguments against this project have been set out in full on our website starting here. Or search the site under ‘Monash’ and ‘boondoggle’. Our most recent piece is here.

We had heard suggestions that there was some uneasiness in Canberra about whether this project – an Abbott favourite – should continue. Announcing the contract just two days before Christmas bespeaks a degree of embarrassment. Crikey this week had this to say about the practice of ‘taking out the trash’:

‘Tis the season to take out the trash. It’s that time of year when government and businesses like to slide out all that awkward news and hope that we all won’t notice in our festive cheer, or on our summer holidays. (21 December 2015)

We checked the French translation of ‘boondoggle’*. It’s still boondoggle. Est-ce une boondoggle embarrassante, peut-etre ?

* Boondoggle’: ‘A project that is considered a useless waste of both time and money, yet is often continued due to extraneous policy or political motivations.’

David Stephens

23 December 2015

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