Two former heads of the Australian Struggle Memorial, former ambassadors and several other ex-departmental secretaries have referred to as for a reversal of the establishment’s “grandiose” $500m growth plan, saying the cash ought to be redirected to help veterans.
The AWM has attracted significant controversy over its growth plans, which it says are needed to higher inform the story of contemporary battle, show extra of its assortment, home “planes, helicopters and armoured autos” inside galleries, and relieve circulation pressures brought on by excessive customer numbers.
On Friday, a parliamentary inquiry into the growth revealed a submission from 82 historians, former diplomats and public servants, teachers, journalists and curators, who warned the plans for the Canberra website had been extreme and pointless.
The signatories warned of “extreme veneration” and labelled a plan for a digital feed of present defence actions “completely inappropriate”.
“The Australian Struggle Memorial’s $498 million extensions mustn’t proceed,” they wrote. “They can’t be justified. The cash can be higher spent on direct advantages to veterans and their households and on different nationwide establishments.”
The signatories warned the growth harmed the memorial’s heritage values, and appeared designed to draw vacationers slightly than promote Australian understanding of battle.
In addition they poured scorn on a suggestion by the AWM that the growth will assist heal traumatised veterans.
“The memorial’s ambition to supply a ‘therapeutic milieu’ for veterans trivialises the remedy of post-traumatic stress dysfunction and means that memorials can play such a task – a declare for which there’s scant proof,” they mentioned.
The submission is signed by former AWM administrators Brendon Kelson and Steve Gower, and different ex-AWM workers, together with a former supervisor of collections, Richard Llewellyn, former deputy director Michael McKernan and former senior curator Michael Piggott.
Tony Blunn, a former secretary of six Australian authorities departments, Paul Barratt, a former defence division secretary, and John Menadue, a former departmental secretary, ambassador and Qantas chief government, additionally signed, as did former ambassadors Richard Broinowski, Richard Butler and Tony Kevin, and the writer Tom Keneally.
The growth plans embody demolishing and rebuilding the award-winning Anzac Corridor to create nearly double the gallery house, a plan that has outraged the Royal Australian Institute of Architects, amongst others.
A brand new “glazed hyperlink” would hyperlink Anzac Corridor to the primary constructing and home giant objects akin to an F/A18 Hornet, reconnaissance plane, “numerous armoured autos, a further cafe, and extra house to help the memorial’s academic packages”.
A brand new southern entrance can be constructed and the opposite present buildings would endure main refurbishment.
A spokesman for the AWM mentioned the mission wouldn’t come at the price of funding for veterans’ welfare.
“This isn’t a case of 1 or the opposite, however a dedication to each,” he mentioned.
The growth, together with the rebuilding of Anzac Corridor, was one in every of 4 choices thought of. The spokesman mentioned it was the very best in architectural design, exhibition flexibility, accessibility and worth for cash. It was additionally the very best end result for “telling up to date veterans’ tales”.
He mentioned giant up to date objects, akin to bombers and helicopters, would assist guests “discover and perceive private tales” and promote understanding.
“Whether or not the tales are of loss, braveness, or the day-to-day expertise of different Australians linked to them, the show and interpretation of bodily representations of our navy historical past is important to making sure guests perceive the up to date Australian expertise of battle in a dignified, respectful and significant method,” the spokesman mentioned.
In a separate submission, Gower described the deliberate demolition of Anzac Corridor as “vandalism” and mentioned the plans didn’t accord with the imaginative and prescient of Charles Bean, who wished the memorial to be “not colossal in scale”.
“It’s giantism that would properly swamp and destroy the inherent well-recognised heritage worth of the location if executed as at present proposed,” he mentioned.
The submission was made to parliament’s standing committee on public works, which is inquiring into the growth.