The Australian War Memorial’s controversial $498 million expansion has hit the spotlight again this week, as representatives gave evidence to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works yesterday, Tuesday 14 July.
The development project was referred to the Public Works Committee by the Governor-General, after around 80% of submissions received opposed or expressed concern about demolishing Anzac Hall.
The Australian Institute of Architects (AIA) have been strong opponents of the development project since 2018, with CEO Julia Cambage giving evidence at the public hearing yesterday.
“Far from being a simple exercise in rubber-stamping, this Inquiry provides a critically important opportunity to reset these expansion plans and address the many legitimate concerns raised in the record number of submissions the Committee has received,” she said.
“This lengthy, detailed and deeply considered feedback stems from veterans and their families, concerned citizens, distinguished and honoured Australians, leading academics, renowned historians, as well as former Memorial directors and staff.”
Federal Government funding for the project was announced in November 2018, detailing the $498 million to be used for expansions across nine years.
While there are numerous reasons for opposition to the expansion, the AIA is most concerned about plans to demolish Anzac Hall.
“The Australian War Memorial is one of our most highly valued and deeply cherished public institutions. Its expansion must occur in a way that expends public funds judiciously and preserves the site’s sacrosanct nature,” Ms Cambage said.
“The demolition of Anzac Hall is grossly wasteful and unnecessary. It is a building meticulously designed and crafted to honour national service, which now holds two decades’ worth of precious experiences where countless veterans, families and visitors have engaged in shared remembrance.
“Demolishing Anzac Hall would breach the War Memorial’s own Heritage Management Plans which explicitly require its retention.”
Concerns around the expansion have previously detailed the significant cost of the projects and impacts to the surrounding local environment.
It is unclear when the Committee will deliberate on the public hearing, however the AIA is urging that the works be reconsidered.