Tony Abbott confirmed as War Memorial’s newest council member

Michael Weaver 1 October 2019 29
Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott with Australian soldiers

Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott has today been appointed to the Australian War Memorial Council. Photo: File.

The newly appointed member of the Council of the Australian War Memorial, Tony Abbott, will ensure the stories from recent military conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Solomon Islands and East Timor will be proudly told.

That’s the view of the Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel, Darren Chester, who said Mr Abbott’s extensive experience will see the memorial upgraded to tell the stories of more recent conflicts.

The appointment of Mr Abbott to the Council marks the former prime minister’s first return to public life since his bruising election defeat earlier this year.

“The Australian Government recently announced an investment of almost $500 million to be able to display more of the Australian War Memorial’s collection and I have no doubt Mr Abbott will be an asset to the Council during this period,” Mr Chester said in a statement today.

Plans were announced in November for a $498 million expansion over the next nine years that will double the size of the 77-year-old institution’s visitor areas. They also include demolishing Anzac Hall.

An artist’s impression of a section of the re-imagined War Memorial

An artist’s impression of a section of the re-imagined War Memorial. Photo: AWM.

There has been criticism of the approach to broaden the displays at the Memorial which could diminish its intended purpose.

David Stephens, the Coordinator of Heritage Guardians, a community campaign against the proposed $498 million extensions to the Australian War Memorial, told Region Media in August that Mr Abbott would deliver more of the same sentiment that has characterised the War Memorial since Dr Brendan Nelson was appointed Director in 2012.

“I have suggested elsewhere that the present Council looks like the governing body of an ex-service club and that future vacancies should be filled through public advertising to produce a different mix,” Mr Stephens said.

The Australian War Memorial board is headed by Seven West chairman Kerry Stokes and includes chair of Qantas Margaret Jackson, Chief of Army Lieutenant General Rick Burr and Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Michael Noonan.

The Council of the Australian War Memorial is responsible for the conduct and control of the affairs of the memorial and its policy with respect to any matters determined by the Council.

Mr Stephens said Tony Abbott is the wrong choice for the Council of the Australian War Memorial, but not just because his appointment would be “jobs for the boys”.

“A country whose forces in the major wars were representative of the whole nation has a very narrowly based group running its premier commemorative institution,” Mr Stephens said.

However, Mr Chester said he was confident Mr Abbott will continue to record the stories of those who have served, in their words, to the more than one million visitors to the memorial each year.

“As Prime Minister, Mr Abbott led the case to build the Sir John Monash Centre in Villers-Bretonneux to tell the stories and honour the thousands of fallen Australians who served in the First World War,” Mr Chester said.

Mr Abbott has been appointed to the Council as a part-time member for a period of three years. His appointment fills the vacancy left following the death in March of acclaimed author and historian Les Carlyon.

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29 Responses to Tony Abbott confirmed as War Memorial’s newest council member
John Moulis John Moulis 8:40 am 02 Oct 19

It reminds me of how Gough Whitlam created a whole new agency for Al Grassby to administer after Grassby lost his seat in the 1974 election. It took Fraser 7 years to sack Grassby, how long will it take after the next change of government before Mr Budgy Smugglers is given his marching orders?

Helen Kvalheim Stephenson Helen Kvalheim Stephenson 8:10 am 02 Oct 19

Oh he’s a terrible choice! Grinning like a Cheshire Cat.

Wayne Lutter Wayne Lutter 7:16 am 02 Oct 19

Great appointment, does a lot for Soldier On and the main force for the Sir John Monash monument in France

Rob Long Rob Long 7:02 am 02 Oct 19

Another war loving right wing nut job in the house

Lauryn Roberts Lauryn Roberts 7:01 am 02 Oct 19

Don’t suppose it would matter that most of Australia still doesn’t want this clown

Russell Smith Russell Smith 6:41 am 02 Oct 19

A tone deaf appointment. Abbott polarises people. You’ve essentially politicised the War Memorial. Next time he attacks a minority and they protest at the War Memorial you shall have reaped what you have sown.

Josh Digby Caesar Josh Digby Caesar 1:10 am 02 Oct 19

omfg, why?

Michael Ryan Michael Ryan 12:33 am 02 Oct 19

Abbott's continuing service as Sergeant-at-Arms and Apologist-in-Chief to the Pell gang should disqualify him from any publicly paid Job...

Gabriel Spacca Gabriel Spacca 12:02 am 02 Oct 19

I thought we fought a war against extreme right wing racists?

Angela Thomas Angela Thomas 11:20 pm 01 Oct 19

Excellent appointment!

Suzanne Milne Suzanne Milne 9:12 pm 01 Oct 19

not happy with this at all!

Paul Burgess Paul Burgess 8:07 pm 01 Oct 19

FFS There goes the neighbourhood.

Tom Porter Tom Porter 7:43 pm 01 Oct 19

This is the same person quoted degrading the death of Diggers in Afgahnistan.

Cathie Stoffell Cathie Stoffell 7:34 pm 01 Oct 19

Oh dear!!

Steve Dundee Steve Dundee 7:15 pm 01 Oct 19

A good appointment

Ben Roberts Ben Roberts 7:02 pm 01 Oct 19

FFS. He'll replace Brendan Nelson next.

Shayne Borger Shayne Borger 6:43 pm 01 Oct 19

An appointment of merit? He certainly will continue to tell our service history which is what the institution is for

Hans Dimpel Hans Dimpel 6:27 pm 01 Oct 19

jobs for the boys and the age of entitlement.

Stephen Page-Murray Stephen Page-Murray 6:17 pm 01 Oct 19


Steve McLeish Steve McLeish 6:01 pm 01 Oct 19

Good appointment.

    Steve McLeish Steve McLeish 7:48 pm 01 Oct 19

    I am apolitical these days. In fact I despise politics. Tony seems to be a good community guy life saving/ volunteer bush fire brigade so would like to see him in an apolitical role.

    Philip White Philip White 8:14 pm 01 Oct 19

    Steve Mcleish politics has nothing to do with personal values - it does provide a shield sometimes - this guy is nothing more than a narcissistic turd - in it for his own glory - sorry mate - leopards don't change teir spots!

    Jim Jim Jim Jim 6:02 am 02 Oct 19

    Philip White you just described most politicians, CEOs etc narcissism and sociopathy increase exponentially in higher functioning/profile individuals. Next time you say your boss is a psycho you’re probably right lol

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