House debates

Monday, 22 February 2021


Public Works Committee; Report

3:12 pm

Photo of Rick WilsonRick Wilson (O'Connor, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

On behalf of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, I present the committee's report, incorporating a dissenting report, No. 1 of 2021 relating to a referral made in April 2020.

Report made a parliamentary paper in accordance with standing order 39(e).

by leave—This report contains and considers one proposal: the Australian War Memorial development project. The total value of this project was $498.7 million.

The Australian War Memorial plays a central role in the remembrance of Australia's war dead, as well as those Australians who have served in conflicts. It is both a memorial and a museum, and is unique in the world in serving these two functions. The memorial is an institution of international standing—one of the most significant memorials of its type—and the Australian community clearly holds it as one of the country's premier cultural institutions.

As with all projects examined by the committee, the committee took its role in scrutinising this project very seriously. The proposal outlines a major development at the Australian War Memorial's Campbell site, the location of one of the most iconic buildings in Australia. The War Memorial identified that the need for these works arose largely due to a lack of space to commemorate modern conflicts. In order to address this, the War Memorial proposed a significant expansion of the display space available at the current site. This proposal was referred to the committee in April 2020 and this inquiry was just one of several approval processes for the proposed works.

Since its referral, the committee has received a larger-than-usual number of submissions responding to the project: 77 original submissions, with many submitters adding their comments. The committee took this as a clear indication of the depth of public interest in the proposal before the committee. The committee held a public hearing on the project, hearing from historians, architects, the medical profession, museum experts, former Australian War Memorial directors, heritage experts and the Australian War Memorial itself. The evidence received from every group and individual was invaluable, and the committee sincerely thanks all of those who gave either written or oral evidence to this inquiry. The passion of many Australians who gave evidence was clear, and the committee has been left in no doubt that Australians consider the War Memorial a highly significant cultural site.

In terms of the project before the committee, the report recommends that it is expedient that works be carried out. The committee sincerely thanks all who engaged in this inquiry, including the former member for Groom, the Hon. Dr John McVeigh, who provided a steady hand as chair of the committee through the early part of this inquiry. I'd also like to thank my fellow committee members for their thoughtful consideration of this project, including visiting War Memorial facilities and engaging with the evidence, and their collegiate approach to the committee's work on this inquiry. I commend this report to the House.


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