15 November 2021

Probing the polls: restaurant deposits and the War Memorial expansion

| Genevieve Jacobs
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War memorial redevelopment site

Work has commenced on the Australian War Memorial redevelopment site. Photo: Honest History.

As Canberra emerges from lockdown, the hospitality industry is continuing to struggle with restrictions. When venue numbers are limited, it’s even harder to justify opening if people don’t turn up.

OTIS restauranteur Damien Brabender recently lost 40 per cent of his takings in one night when a table of 10 failed to show without warning or explanation. He’s furious, as are many other venues.

“When you have 10 people out of 25 no-show, you’re literally going backwards. That’s 40 per cent of your guests not showing up, and if you have to add that to your cost of goods and your staffing levels, if the government was to say you can open your restaurant to 15 people, you wouldn’t open,” said Mr Brabender.

He worries that we’re about to see the new variant of panic buying, ‘panic booking’.

Could charging a deposit solve the problem for the hospitality sector?

Glenda Waters wrote: “I believe a deposit is reasonable with a refund if cancellation is made with enough notice to give the restaurant time to give someone off the wait list your table.”

But for Lily Rimanic, “unless they are the most expensive restaurants (with a clientele to whom money is no object), they will see their volume decline with such an impost”.

READ MORE OTIS owner hopes no-shows aren’t the ‘new normal’

We asked Should restaurants charge an upfront holding deposit?

A total of 917 people voted, and most of you agreed that this was fair enough for restaurants struggling to get free of the pandemic.

Your options were to vote, No, it’s more trouble than it’s worth. This attracted 33 per cent of the total, or 302 votes. Alternatively, you could vote Yes, cancelling with no good reason is disrespectful and unfair. This received 67 per cent of the total, or 615 votes.

This week, we’re wondering what you think the role of the Australian War Memorial should be?

The venerable institution marked its 80th birthday on Remembrance Day, weathering a storm of controversy over its new extension plans.

READ ALSO 80 years on, the War Memorial is in a battle for its soul

Ian Bushnell wrote that the $500 million redevelopment proposal has provoked bitter arguments about whether the Memorial is primarily a place of commemoration and reflection or is expanding into a museum, something beyond its original charter.

The redevelopment was driven by former memorial director and Liberal minister Dr Brendan Nelson who felt that the service of many recent veterans was not recognised sufficiently. Plans for a major new display space detailing the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts required demolishing Anzac Hall, an award-winning building less than 20 years old.

However, there’s been determined opposition from many high profile figures, including former AWM directors, historians, senior military leaders and veterans who say that the hefty price tag would be better spent on veteran welfare.

“Will visitors to the new Memorial come away with an understanding of the tragic waste of war as well as the sacrifices made in our name, or will they be dazzled by the artefacts of war and beguiled by the heroics of our troops?” Ian asked.

Our question this week is: Do you think the new War Memorial extension is a worthwhile idea?

Your options to vote are:

Do you think the new War Memorial extension is a worthwhile idea?

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The second invasion of Iraq was illegal and a war crime.
In Afghanistan we foolishly followed the USA for 20 years that achieved nothing except for killing a lot of civilians, subjecting our service personal to unnecessary trauma while making US weapons companies extremely rich.
Are these facts going to be represented in this $500M+ redo; unlikely.

If the war memorial expansion truly was focused on bringing more focus on recognising the horrors of war, that would be one thing. But the reality is that it is actually about getting and storing and displaying more and more “war toys”. Does owning tanks and guns and planes really assist in fulfilling the role of a memorial? Do they help to teach how vile and horrible war is, and that we should avoid it at all costs? No they do not. Get rid of the lot of them – and I don’t mean sell them – that just moves the sick fascination of destruction to some other site – bulldoze the lot into the ground.

Please, can we stop this nonsense about the AWM being a shrine and not a museum. It was always intended to be both and has always been both. The latest development is a separate issue. For what it’s worth, I’m a former employee of the AWM and while I don’t oppose some modest expansion, what is happening now is a travesty. Far too much money is being spent and the demolition of Anzac Hall is nothing short of vandalism.

Helen Roberts8:02 pm 15 Nov 21

No extension! It is waste of money and amounts to a desecration of a historic shrine. And why were the trees demolished. My father was Athanasius Treweek (a Lieutenant colonel and code breaker of Japanese in WW11). Seconded to the American Sixth Fleet, he was part of a team in Melbourne breaking Japanese naval codes. He would visit the War Memorial when he came to Canberra.

TwainAndHume7:00 pm 15 Nov 21

Unneeded, wasteful and most sad to see. It is as though a half billion dollars to this government is chump change … except when it comes to needed institutions (such as the National Archives) or social programs.

David Stephens5:56 pm 15 Nov 21

Nice to be asked. ‘No’ has to be the answer. This is a large and inappropriate development, along the way destroying a site which the PM and others claim is sacred. What iconic building will be next, one wonders.

‘No’ but. Sensitive development of the AWM which protects the important character of the site is not a problem – Anzac Hall (2001) and the Eastern Precinct (2011) are examples of how to get it right. There were other options to get the extra space needed which did not destroy the outstanding qualities of the place. What is occurring now is a massive and unsympathetic overdevelopment. Recent Memorial planning has chosen big, bold and brassy over sensitive, refined and respectful.

Finagen_Freeman1:14 pm 15 Nov 21

Thank you Riotact for asking the public to vote, on what the government should also have consulted us on.

I’m not sure any Digger, current or past, would want half a billion dollars spent on a war display when there are homeless, hospital wait lists and needs for the living right now.

Yeah, I mean there’s only been multiple rounds of public consultation, parliamentary hearings and Federal elections since the War Memorial project was proposed.

But I never got a chance to be consulted, so I need an inaccurate and leading poll question on the Riotact to gave my say.

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