‘Scandalous waste’: avalanche of submissions oppose War Memorial expansion

Ian Bushnell 18 May 2021 84
Redeveloped AWM

An artist’s impression of the redeveloped Australian War Memorial, showing the new Southern Entrance and Parade Ground. Image: Australian War Memorial.

A disgrace, a scandalous waste of money and vandalism – they are just some of the criticisms of the planned $500 million expansion of the Australian War Memorial in the first published batches of submissions to the National Capital Authority on the so-called early works application being assessed.

The NCA is the last approval hurdle for the project and has received 599 submissions. The Memorial argues that the expansion will allow it to tell the stories of more contemporary military and peacekeeping missions, and has bipartisan political support.

All bar one of the submissions opposed the proposed development, calling out, in particular, the notion that the demolition of Anzac Hall, major excavation and the removal of 65 trees could be considered early works when they are significant aspects of the redevelopment.

“Considering the three projects outlined above in isolation and calling them ‘early works’ appears to be a deliberate attempt to ‘play them down’ to avoid unwelcome public scrutiny and criticism,” one submission says.

“It is clear that by requesting approval for ‘early works’ … War Memorial management is attempting to place the project in a circumstance of ‘fait accompli’.”

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Many submissions lament the destruction of Anzac Hall, with one saying the “early works amount to nothing short of vandalism” and others calling it unwarranted and unnecessary.

The proposed loss of mature eucalypts around the War Memorial also rates highly, with many saying it contravenes the NCA’s own Tree Management Policy.

One submission argues that the proposal is a test for the NCA, which must assess the heritage impacts of the proposal within the context of the National Capital Plan.

“If the NCA is to remain relevant in the management of the Canberra National Area, they must not see their role as necessarily acquiescent to DAWE [the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment] (or the PWC [the Public Works Committee]). The NCA must be in spirit, what they are in name, an [independent] authority; and make a separate, independent judgement on the heritage impact of this redevelopment proposal,” it says.

Many submissions are concerned at the direction the Memorial is taking towards becoming a museum or even a theme park with the creation of space for large bits of military hardware.

“The national capital should have a memorial to our war dead and their families, NOT a theme park or even a museum,” says one.

“A memorial should be a place of quiet reflection and dignity. These sentiments can be completely lost in a large-scale extravaganza.”

Some see the expanded Memorial becoming a glorification of war rather than a place to reflect on the nation’s losses and the horror of war.

“This project is a disgrace, transforming a peaceful space of grass and trees intended for reflection on the folly and human cost of war into a concrete wasteland celebrating killing and weaponry,” one says.

Many are appalled at the cost, calling for the $500 million to go to veterans’ health or other cultural institutions.

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One suggests a series of infrastructure projects across the nation in memory of those lost in war: “In the small town in western New South Wales where I was born, they have a high school called ‘Hay War Memorial High School’ which serves to honour the memory of all those men from around Hay who went off to war and never came back …

“Rather than investing in this obscenely expensive expansion of the War Memorial, may I suggest that the money available be invested in better public schools, hospitals, libraries, perhaps dental clinics, each with a board recording the names of fellow citizens who died in war, or indeed the names of all those people, men or women, who left their communities to go off to serve.”

A consultation report addressing the matters raised in the submissions will be released to the public, but it is not expected that this will be finalised before the end of June.

Through the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act process, the Parliamentary Works Committee and the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment have already given the redevelopment a tick.

To read the submissions, visit the NCA website.

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84 Responses to ‘Scandalous waste’: avalanche of submissions oppose War Memorial expansion
Diana Mary Napier Diana Mary Napier 3:42 pm 21 May 21

No it didnt

Diana Mary Napier Diana Mary Napier 3:41 pm 21 May 21

The green shed is next to the AWM archives. Its Canberras most successful business. It got an award for Repurposing Canberras memorabilia and employing more people than anyone else. It is a vast barn, bit like a museum really.

Diana Mary Napier Diana Mary Napier 11:00 am 21 May 21

The opposition to the vietnam was stayed up. We the families of the soldiers who severed were vilified by the protesters.

Diana Mary Napier Diana Mary Napier 10:57 am 21 May 21


Who owns the press? The AWM council chair man. HE wants a canberra ballroom. The development plans got no publicity in RSL Tasmania and AWM are yet to show any figures on who voted and where they were from. They say 14000, but its a figure plucked out of the air.

Diana Mary Napier Diana Mary Napier 10:52 am 21 May 21

You can still submit objections to NCA via WAconsultations@nca.gov

Diana Mary Napier Diana Mary Napier 10:49 am 21 May 21

More kids from interstate will bulk up tourism numbers. Thats why they need a new entrance. At present kids block up the entrance.

Did anyone ask their parents if they want their kids indoctrinated like this, instead of telling proper history.

I saw 2 boys playing in a gun turret. They said "wouldnt this be fun" Their teacher was off chasing other mucking up kids.

Jim Hatton Jim Hatton 10:26 am 21 May 21

Appreciate the veterans by caring for them

Rob Long Rob Long 9:10 pm 20 May 21

Nelson’s fiasco

Charlie Karmenu Flask Charlie Karmenu Flask 6:37 pm 20 May 21

Canberrans have made their views known to the NCA and the NCA will duly ignore them!!!

    Diana Mary Napier Diana Mary Napier 10:50 am 21 May 21

    You can still submit connections to NCA. WAconsultations@nca.gov.au

old canberran old canberran 4:49 pm 20 May 21

Canberra is the object of much criticism by residents of the states for the amount of taxpayer money that is spent on Canberra. To spend $500 million on something in Canberra at this time when businesses and people need financial help is extremely poor timing and totally unjustifiable. I would not have thought after the heavy spending over the past 12 months that there would be any spare cash left for this project.

Kerry Apted Kerry Apted 3:04 pm 20 May 21

77 submissions?


Capital Retro Capital Retro 8:46 am 20 May 21

“A theme park in a cemetery now there’s an idea.”

It will compliment the already existing “theme park in a tree plantation” down the road.

Virginia Dodson Virginia Dodson 9:50 pm 19 May 21

How many quarantine facilities could you build with half a billion bucks? How many ex service personnel could you help? Absolutely ridiculous and appalling use of taxpayers money. Heritage listing of Anzac Hall meant nothing and it was closed to the public on Anzac Day during ACT Heritage Month!

Gabriel Spacca Gabriel Spacca 9:33 pm 19 May 21

Sadly I suspect it’s a done deal and they only go through the motions without any intention of doing anything else but build the eyesore, err sorry I meant extension.

whatwik whatwik 7:51 pm 19 May 21

As one whose family members who were most affected by their wartime experiences (from Gallipoli on) were the ones who eschewed any big-noting or fanfare in favour of quiet reflection, must admit the artist’s impression above is somewhat more encouraging than I’d feared, but would hope the bunkers to either side of the Hall of Memory include significantly enhanced research facilities, and would probably break up the expanse of parade ground (with a water feature perhaps) and ‘soften’ or get rid of the vertical columns, to avoid any hint of a Nuremberg feeling.

Glenn Taylor Glenn Taylor 5:57 pm 19 May 21

A theme park in a cemetery now there's an idea.

Elroy Jones Elroy Jones 5:44 pm 19 May 21

Firm supporter of the expansion. It’s a fantastic opportunity to have a world class attraction in Canberra. You nimby’s ruin everything

Mark Chapman Mark Chapman 5:21 pm 19 May 21

Because of course we don't have any better way to spend $500 million than to glorify a former Liberal Party leader.

Liz Hughes Liz Hughes 4:35 pm 19 May 21

A disgraceful abuse of power and contempt for public sentiment. Not to mention the extreme waste of money

Dee Collins Dee Collins 3:42 pm 19 May 21

Humans do not learn from war i think that's pretty clear.

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