The director of the Australian War Memorial has made a forthright defence of the way the institution is partly funded by companies which make weapons.
Brendan Nelson said he would personally give critics a guided tour alongside veterans to convince the nay-sayers that the corporate money was tastefully spent.
"Many of the defence contractors see support for the Australian War Memorial as a way of supporting veterans," Dr Nelson said.
He said he'd had a bereaved mother weeping freely on his shoulder as she viewed equipment which her dead son had used. Only those exhibitions at the Australian War Memorial which displayed hardware like helicopters, he said, were funded by defence companies.
He added that he was careful to keep separate the two roles of the national institution in Canberra - as a war museum but also as a shrine to Australia's war dead. The corporate money did not fund the shrine, he said.
His defence of the institution he runs came after fierce criticism by a prominent Australian peace campaigner.
The national president of the Medical Association for the Prevention of War, Dr Sue Wareham, said in a meeting organised by the Greens in Canberra that "it's entirely inappropriate to have weapons companies funding activities at the War Memorial".
"These are the companies that, when we send our troops off to war, maybe to kill or be killed, are raking in the profits alongside our war dead - and we regard that as quite offensive and entirely inappropriate."
The grand national institution which dominates Anzac Parade in Canberra has also come under fire for its planned expansion at a cost of $498 million. Last month, some prominent Australians signed an open letter opposing the plan.
Novelists Tom Keneally and Richard Flanagan, the author, Don Watson, and Australia's first female premier, Carmen Lawrence, were among the signatories of the letter organised by the Honest History group.
A former Liberal politician, Dr Nelson, rejected suggestions that the whole tone of the current memorial was wrong.
He said that one foreign ruler who had visited the site had emerged to say "this is the best I have seen ever".
But the critics say that putting so much hardware - the machinery of war - so near to the area for mourning and reflection debases the shrine section. It makes it a glorification of war, is their argument.
Dr Nelson disagreed. "There's no triumphalism," he said.
He said veterans wanted to see the machinery - the tanks and planes and armoured cars.
"They want to see that helicopter. The emotional correspondence I've had from them is extraordinary," he said.
When veterans looked at the planes which they had previously seen in active service it helped them, he said, and the money from weapons manufacturers was used carefully. It wouldn't be used, for example, for the part of the memorial complex devoted to the great suffering of prisoners of war.
He said that companies like Boeing (which makes warplanes and missiles as well as civilian aircraft) and Lockheed Martin (which makes the Trident nuclear missile as well as a range of other weapons systems) have no say in how their money is used.
Some donors in other museums and public sites get "naming rights" - the peace bell in Canberra, for example, is officially the Canberra Rotary Peace Bell. But, Dr Nelson said, the arms companies which donate do not insist or get those rights. "There's nothing like that at the Australian War Memorial," he said.
The opposition to funding by weapons companies was equally firm in its view. Dr Wareham, whose organisation is part of a group which won the Nobel Peace Prize, said: "The weapons companies don't have any interest in us learning about the circumstances around our wars - about learning any lessons - how did this war come about; how it might have been prevented?
"The war memorial story that's being told or proposed in the new expansion is more about weaponry. It's about how we fight our wars. It's not about why we fight our wars and what all the impacts are. This would suit the weapons companies very well.
"In essence, our weapons are almost being glorified along with the war dead when we're proposing so much money to display more of them.
"This is a conflict of interest to have companies, with an interest in us continually preparing for war and going to war, to have them alongside our war dead.
"This is just wrong and entirely inappropriate and offensive."
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