Brendan Nelson to step down as head of Australian Warfare Memorial | Australia information


The top of the Australian Warfare Memorial, Brendan Nelson, will depart the position on the finish of this 12 months.

The federal government has introduced that Nelson, who has directed the establishment for seven years, is not going to keep on past his present time period.

The veterans affairs minister, Darren Chester, mentioned a nationwide search would now start to search out his alternative. Chester praised Nelson, a former Liberal defence minister, for his “ardour and excellent contribution”.

“Brendan has offered management to the Memorial that has made it world-renowned, together with managing its intensive upgrades and overseeing the Centenary of Anzac program,” Chester mentioned.

“Underneath his steering, the Memorial has additionally led a spread of exhibitions, shows, memorials and documentaries of our first world warfare, Korean and Vietnam conflicts, and extra not too long ago, the commemorations of the centenary of the primary world warfare, together with the poignant show of 62,000 knitted Poppies.”

Nelson has courted controversy throughout his time on the AWM, mainly over the memorial’s vast $500m expansion and his acceptance of donations from weapons companies. Critics mentioned the $500m could be higher spent on serving to veterans with post-traumatic stress dysfunction, and the acceptance of arms cash was “contemptible”.

Arms producers have been afforded naming rights over elements of the memorial complicated, such because the BAE Programs Theatre, named after a British arms multinational.

Nelson has been a staunch defender of the acceptance of arms firm’s cash. He mentioned the businesses had an obligation to clarify “what’s being finished within the identify of our nation”.

Guardian Australia revealed this 12 months that Nelson was additionally accepting a private price from an arms producer, Thales, whereas appearing on its advisory board. Nelson mentioned he had not stored the non-public price from Thales. The cash had been handed on to the memorial as a donation, he mentioned.

AWM administrators are legally barred from taking outdoors employment except they’ve the categorical permission of the federal government of the day.

Paperwork obtained by the Guardian also showed earlier ministers gave him such permission, whereas warning him in opposition to placing himself right into a conflicted place.

The then veterans affairs minister, Michael Ronaldson, mentioned he was snug that “there doesn’t seem like a battle” however mentioned: “The place the 2 roles might doubtlessly be in battle, I ask that you just take the mandatory steps to keep away from these circumstances.”

Thales has had frequent interactions with the AWM. It has offered normal sponsorship help and backs particular person exhibitions, such because the artist Ben Quilty’s After Afghanistan exhibit. It has additionally partnered with the AWM on the Napier Waller artwork prize.

One former former AWM director, Brendon Kelson, beforehand criticised the association, saying he believed there was a battle of curiosity, no matter whether or not Nelson donated his price.

“There’s a battle of curiosity, in my opinion,” Kelson mentioned. “It’s a nationwide cultural establishment, he’s sitting on the board of a donor to the establishment. All of that – it simply seems to be messy.”