Post COVID recovery: ACT Greens call for proposed $500 million War Memorial expansion to fund national cultural institutions


The ACT Greens have today reaffirmed their opposition to the proposed $500 million expansion of the Australian War Memorial (AWM) instead calling for these funds to be redirected to fund our struggling national institutions - as part of a post COVID recovery.

It comes as two former heads of the Australian War Memorial, former ambassadors and several ex-departmental secretaries have called for a reversal of the institution’s “grandiose” $500m expansion plan, saying the money should be redirected elsewhere.

As recently as March 2019, the Greens instead proposed that funds be redirected to:

  • reverse cuts to all national cultural institutions and boost their funding;
  • commemorate the Frontier Wars with a memorial close to the AWM/ ANZAC Parade site, and recognise and fund the Tent Embassy as a National Institution
  • establish a National Institutions Council;
  • end arms manufacturer sponsorship to the War Memorial.

The Greens also suggest these funds would be better spent on direct benefits to veterans and their families.

“Our national institutions - our Museum, our Gallery, and our Library - have also all suffered enormously after months of COVID lockdown. Even before the pandemic hit, these institutions were losing staff and were being asked to cut services following decades of Federal Budget cuts, ” ACT Greens leader Shane Rattenbury said today.

"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.

“However, the proposed $500 million expansion is excessive and unnecessary, particularly at a time of post COVID recovery.”

ACT Greens Heritage spokesperson Rebecca Vassarotti today reaffirmed the Greens’ earlier calls for a memorial to the devastating Frontier Wars against Aboriginal people in Australia.

“The Black Lives Matter movement is making a seismic cultural impact across the world, and here in the ACT, there’s no question that we can - and must - do more to listen to, and honour, Black voices in the telling of our history and our heritage,” Ms Vassarotti said today.

“The Greens want all Australians to be able to learn more about the truth of our national story. Earlier this week, even the Prime Minister himself conceded that his understanding that slavery did not take place during colonisation was incorrect.

“It's well past time we had a memorial to the Frontier Wars as part of the memorial precinct. Building a memorial and recognising and funding the Tent Embassy are small but significant steps in working genuinely with Indigenous people, in full knowledge of our past, towards a
future together.

“The expansion would also damage the local environment at the foothills of the Mount Ainslie woodland reserve, and has been opposed by local groups and many prominent Australians.

"This expansion is sadly supported by both major parties,” Ms Vassarotti said.