The Greens are today announcing that they will oppose the unnecessary $498m expansion of the Australian War Memorial, using the $178m of those funds currently in the forward estimates to:
- reverse cuts to all national cultural institutions and boost their funding;
- establish a National Institutions Council;
- end arms manufacturer sponsorship to the War Memorial; and
- commemorate the Frontier Wars, and recognise and fund the Tent Embassy as a National Institution.
The $498m redevelopment of the War Memorial comes at a time when all other cultural institutions are losing staff and being asked to cut services every year, thanks to ongoing ‘efficiency dividends’. It would also damage the local environment and threaten the Mount Ainslie reserve, and has been opposed by local groups and many prominent Australians. It is supported by both major parties. The Greens’ policy would also allocate the remainder of the $498m to funding cultural institutions into the future.
Greens candidate for Canberra, Tim Hollo, and Greens candidate for the ACT Senate, Dr Penny Kyburz, is joined for the announcement today by Greens Leader, Senator Richard Di Natale, and former leader, Christine Milne, who worked to defend Canberra's National Cultural Institutions from so-called ‘efficiency dividends’ over many years.
Senator Di Natale said: "The Greens value the War Memorial as an important part of our national heritage and it should be properly resourced to commemorate Australia’s experiences of war.”
"But the Liberal Government’s planned half-billion dollar expansion to showcase military hardware is deeply inappropriate, especially when our other National Institutions don't have the funds to repair their leaky roofs. This government’s priorities are all wrong.”
Former Senator Milne said: "The so-called "efficiency dividends" applied to National Institutions over many years have been destructive for a decade. Our museums, galleries and archives have been deliberately starved of vital funds to continue their work. In 2012, the Greens negotiated to protect key institutions from these cuts through a one-off grant, but the cuts have kept coming ever since.”
"It's time to abolish these annual cuts and fund our cultural institutions properly. Canberra has always lost out from only having major party MPs. Electing Tim Hollo and Dr Penny Kyburz to Parliament would finally give Canberra a community voice in politics to pull the other parties in the right direction.”
Dr Kyburz said: "The National Gallery, Library, Archives and other institutions are the cornerstones of our national cultural life, the custodians of our stories, and a vital part of Canberra's geography. Researchers like me rely on them for our work, and we all rely on them to safeguard our national heritage and bring the world’s cultures to Canberra. It's unforgivable that they have been starved of funds for a decade and more while the War Memorial is the beneficiary of an unnecessary cash splash."
Mr Hollo said: "Funding our national institutions should not be determined by the political priorities of the government of the day, especially an anti-culture government like this one. The new National Institutions Council will work with all cultural institutions to advocate for funding to government. As the local MP for Canberra, I would always advocate for our national institutions and our city’s special role as a meeting place for all Australian stories.”
“The War Memorial is to commemorate wars, not to commercialise them. Arms manufacturers should not have any role in funding Australia’s commemoration of our war dead. The Greens will work to end arms manufacturer sponsorships and allocate public funding to cover lost revenue."
"It's well past time we had a memorial to the Frontier Wars as part of the memorial precinct. We can never achieve reconciliation until we truly grapple with our history, and understand that the land we live on was taken through war and never ceded. Building a memorial and recognising and funding the Tent Embassy are a small part of working genuinely with Indigenous people, in full knowledge of our past, towards a future together."
The Greens are targeting the new seat of Canberra and Liberal Senator Zed Seselja’s Senate seat at this election.
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