The Australian War Memorial is to hold a ‘drop-in session’ next Wednesday, 24 July, from 4 pm to explain its plans for ‘early works’ associated with its proposed $498m extensions. Details.
Memorial Director Dr Brendan Nelson said the first stage of the early works includes an extension to the Memorial’s underground car park which will provide the increased capacity required to support the additional gallery space being developed.
“Additionally, a temporary on-site car park will be constructed at the rear of Poppy’s Cafe above the new permanent parking, to provide an area for the construction and contractor parking. Currently, all early works will be within the Memorial site. Once the Memorial expansion has concluded, the above ground temporary car parking area is intended to be restored to a landscaped communal area for all visitors,” Dr Nelson said.
Keeping the car parking on site is a variation on earlier plans, which included taking some of the Mount Ainslie Remembrance Park for parking. The Memorial is also leaving open the possibility that Anzac Hall might not, after all, be destroyed as part of the extensions. (On both of these points, entry for 5 July.)
The changes may well be in response to public pressure and to that extent they are welcome. They do prompt this question, however: given that other details are changing, how firm is the costing of $498m for the whole project, particularly as (on the basis of publicly available information) it seems that the Prime Minister promised the funding (1 November) before the Detailed Business Case (including 80 per cent assurance on costs) went to the government (21 December). (On this point, para 86.)
There is also the issue of whether the Memorial is jumping the gun, by talking of the detail of its plans prior to Heritage, Public Works Committee, and National Capital Authority consideration of the project. Since the project’s first inklings, it has had some odd aspects. This continues.
18 July 2019
Heritage Guardians promotional material. Heritage Guardians is coordinating community action on the Memorial extensions
What is the real value in a “drop in session” with random individual comments? A public briefing and question session should be the approach. In any case the Memorial should be running a proper consultation particularly given all the negative public and professional comment about their proposal. And without proper pre assessment of heritage impacts of the proposal they are in no position to be proposing “early works” in any case.