Critics and Aboriginal elders' hopes controversial Indigenous gargoyles at the Australian War Memorial would be left on the scrap pile have been dashed.
Among the 26 stone gargoyles of native animals lining the courtyard at the Australian War Memorial and slated for restoration, sit two depicting the faces of an Indigenous man and a woman.
Dr Nelson told a Senate committee on Tuesday the gargoyle project would cost $1.6 million in total, and while the paperwork was yet to be signed, the contractor which would conduct the works had been appointed.
He said the eastern side gargoyles would be completed from November 12 to December 23, and the western side from February 1 to March 15, 2016.
Dr Nelson also confirmed the AWM would not be moving to recognise the frontier wars.
In the past Australian historians have argued more needs to be done at the memorial to recognise the wars, including University of NSW professor and former senior historian at the Australian War Memorial Peter Stanley.
"If there is a memorial only to Indigenous service people, it denies the frontier wars are part of Australia's Indigenous history and we should remember it in the same way as we remember Gallipoli," he said.
But Dr Nelson said after much consultation with historians it was the memorial's view that it did not constitute a war and it would be outside the remit of the AWM to set up a memorial to it.
"We are not of the view there was such a thing as a declared war against Indigenous Australians," he said.
"After the British garrisons left it was conducted by police militia, some pastoral militia and mounted Aboriginal militia."
Dr Nelson said the "armed conflict" between Indigenous and white Australians should be told at the National Museum of Australia but the AWM did not have the resources.
"The strength of what we do at the memorial is our collection, the things that we actually have. Even if the memorial were of the view that it should be telling the story of armed conflict we don't have any material to do it," he said.
Senator Nick Xenophon also pushed the AWM at the hearing on whether it had already shortlisted a historian to complete its $13 million, seven-year project to write an official history of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
Dr Nelson said this was not the case and the memorial would advertise for a "suitably qualified" historian in the next few weeks without any preconceptions.
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