Dr Sue Wareham has effectively nailed the issues surrounding the redevelopment of the Australian War Memorial ("A memorial, or something uglier?", Opinion, February 27, p32).
Only one rubber stamp is now required before the bulldozers move in to destroy this national icon: that of the National Capital Authority. But the story doesn't have to end like this.
In 1993 the AWM set up in Mitchell ACT its first international standard facility for the storage and exhibition of its large technology collection. That facility has grown enormously and, in the words of former director Brendan Nelson, will very soon be able to meet all expected needs for up to 50 years!
If Mitchell is used for the purposes it was established, there is no need to touch the heritage-listed memorial, and Anzac Hall will remain fit to accommodate the small number of large objects which serve the institution's genuine commemorative objectives under the AWM Act of 1980. And all the stories of Australians in recent conflicts can be well handled with rearrangements in the memorial. The final cost for this option would be less than $100 million; a lot less than $500m.
This will be a test of the NCA's mettle.
Brendon Kelson, AWM director 1990-1994, Isabella Plains
Please don't do this
Although I don't live in Canberra I spent some time working there in the 1980s and 1990s. I found the AWM to be a sober place of reflection although not enough space was ever allotted to those opposing wars and promoting peace.
This is place of high national significance. The planned "upgrade" leaves me horrified. Not only does it seem like a glorification of war, but it seems that it will avoid much of the truth that needs to be told about Australia's military history. How much attention will be given to the "frontier wars", for example?
We need to be scrutinising wars (ongoing) in which Australia has become involved, and the decision making processes which land us, time and time again, supporting the military agenda of the United States.
What we don't need is a glossing over the crudities of war, so sadly highlighted by the Brereton Report, or a parade of the latest military technology which amounts to more and more sophisticated machines for killing humans and other living species, and for denigration of the environment.
Jo Vallentine, Maylands, WA
Honour all who served
Dr Wareham criticises the Australian War Memorial ("A memorial, or something uglier?", Opinion, February 27, p32) for honouring not only those who have died fighting for their country, but also those who have returned from active service; quite possibly wounded.
How can this be? Is it not right that we as a nation commemorate all who have fought on our behalf, many of whom carry the scars (physical and mental) of their service. Surely, those prepared to sacrifice themselves for us deserve no less. I can only assume Dr Wareham has no close associates who have been deployed on active service on her behalf and (thankfully) have returned. If she had, surely, she would want to honour them.
Bruce Cameron, Campbell
It's not too late
It is never too late to make good, sound decisions, despite political pressure to the contrary. I refer, of course, to the final decision the National Capital Authority (NCA) is to make regarding the multi-million dollar expansion of the Australian War Memorial ("A memorial, or something uglier", February 27, p32.)
Sue Wareham's article makes it clear; judging by the majority of submissions that were strongly against the project, that it is the fervent hope of many, possibly most, Australians the NCA will decide the project is not compatible with the National Capital Plan and, at the very least, prevent the destruction of Anzac Hall.
The primary function of the Australian War Memorial is to maintain "a national memorial of Australians who have died". It is not, nor should it be, a celebration of war.
Murray Upton, Belconnen
Wareham is right
The expansion is an anathema akin to turning the AWM into a Disneyland which glorifies war and which would enrich the image and fill the pockets of the "war mongery" industry. That the arguments of the Australian Institute of Architects and the Heritage Council have been ignored by the parliamentary committee is appalling.
If such an enormous amount of money is so readily available it should be spent on peace making. It is time to put a stop to the development of such a monstrosity, to remember what the cost of war is (ask the vets) and remember what the AWM is really meant to be about.
Margaret O'Callaghan, Fisher
The core mission
The AWM is losing sight of why it exists. It was established as a national memorial to Australians "who have died on or as a result of active service".
With the addition of the extension to house more implements of war the AWM is becoming a memorial to war and militarism. This is not what the people of Australia want. The extension should be stopped.
Pamela Collett, Narrabundah
Boost palliative care
It is as undemocratic for the local government of Canberra (population 462,000) to lack power to legislate euthanasia as it is for the local government of Newcastle (population 453,000) ("ACT's euthanasia insult weakens our democracy", February 20, p33).
Meanwhile, I wish more time were spent improving that which, when well done, is the effective alternative to euthanasia, namely palliative care.
There is a dire shortage of palliative care physicians because the discipline is insufficiently researched and they are seen as poor cousins to "real" specialists ("Palliative care staff stretched thin by shortage", February 25, p6). The ACT and region has only one 19-bed hospice (Clare Holland House), owned by the ACT government and run, under an inadequately funded contract, by Calvary Health Care.
That service provider is reduced to appealing to the public for more funding to support an eight bed expansion of the hospice ("Fundraiser launched for ACT hospice", February 26, p18).
That eight bed expansion was only precipitated by the generosity of the Snow Foundation which in 2018 donated $2 million for a hospice expansion, to be matched by a $4 million Commonwealth grant ("Up to 12 new beds in $6 million expansion of Clare Holland House", September 25, 2018). If the ACT had started to build then there might have been 12 beds.
Clare Holland House opened in 2001. For 20 years, Canberra's politicians have spent more time debating how "undemocratic" it is to lack the euthanasia power than in considering the inadequacy of funding, knowledge and services for palliative care, or in doing anything about it.
P O'Keeffe, Hughes
The mail debate
Mike Hutchinson (Letters, February 27) argues that the letters service provided by Australia Post is subsidised by taxpayers. Even though Australia Post is a government business enterprise, wholly owned by the Australian government, I think it is incorrect to state this is an indirect subsidy by the taxpayer.
The letters service is subsidised by profits from parcel and other services provided by Australia Post. This means other Australia Post users subsidise the letters service, not taxpayers generally. Australia Post still regularly pays a dividend to the Australian government. 2020 was no exception. The only taxpayer subsidy that might exist is through a reduced dividend but it does raise a crucial question of whether a dividend should even be paid.
Australia Post is providing an essential service to many Australian so any profits and dividends paid represent an indirect form of taxation on those in the community who rely on it. In the case of the letter service, heavier users are likely to be older people.
Glenn Pure, Kambah
It is curious that Angela Giblin (Letters, February 23) suggests a sufficient reason for renaming William Slim Drive is that he had ''alleged flaws''. If that was the criterion for naming, I suspect that the respected names of a large number of suburbs and streets in Canberra would need to be expunged to please a small number of people in a process which she inappropriately invokes as ''truth and reconciliation ''.
Equally odd is Eric Hunter's view (Letters, February 23) that suburb and street names should be limited to honour notable Australians. This would mean that the names such as Burley Griffin would be lost as would many other street names, eg in Kaleen named after rivers in Australia.
The criteria should be broad to include notable connections to Canberra or Australia generally, not only people but places and even events such as battles where Australian lives were lost.
Warwick Williams, Nicholls
TO THE POINT
We hope Sue Wareham's article ("A memorial or something uglier", February 27, p32) about the War memorial extension will have some impact. The obscene expenditure could be well spent in other deserving areas. The AWM is a dignified place to remember deceased servicemen and women. It should not become a mausoleum to glorify war.
Jan and Denis Appel, Monash
YOU LOST PETER
There seems to be confusion on the hill about who won the 2018 Liberal leadership spill. Whoever informed Peter Dutton four days before Scott Morrison of the sexual assault on a Defence Department staffer needs to update their parliamentary hierarchy chart.
John Sandilands, Garran
TIME TO GET REAL
The Morrison government is going to increase the JobSeeker payment by $3.57 a day. How are job seekers expected to seek employment on a meagre $43.57 a day? It just shows how out of touch the Morrison government is with the society it governs.
Rohan Goyne, Evatt
END OF LIFE OPTIONS
The shortage of staff in the ACT to meet the increasing demand for palliative care is evidence of the need for other end-of-life choices that have nothing to do with ramping up the supply of medical and nursing personnel or the imposition of restrictive laws that impede planning and decision making for a peaceful and stress-free death at the time of one's own choosing.
Sue Dyer, Downer
THE SELECTION CRITERIA
I suspect that it isn't a coincidence that most male MPs' female support staff are attractive young women.
Dennis Callaghan, Kingston
The accidental overdosing of two Brisbane aged care home residents with the Pfizer vaccine could be an excellent pro-vaccine advertisement for the government. Neither of the residents, who were kept under observation, have exhibited any undesirable side effects to date. This is a good indication that the vaccine is very safe.
Mario Stivala, Belconnen
GO AFTER GERRY
Gerry Harvey's decision not to return JobSeeker funds gives the federal government the opportunity for a free kick the public would applaud. It could say it plans to review the company's tax returns to see what can be clawed back. Even if it found nothing others tempted to follow his lead might change their minds.
Yuri Shukost, Isabella Plains
Speed humps are urgently required on Corlette Crescent in Monash. It is only a matter of time before a serious accident occurs. The stretch of road where the school is located is used as a speedway. The lights and signs at both roundabouts have to be replaced on a regular basis.
Lindy Abbott, Monash
HULL IS RIGHT
Many thanks to Crispin Hull for setting out in detail how Australia is still suffering from John Howard's long prime ministership ("John Howard's legacy lives on, sadly for us", February 27, p31). A lot of us have thought this for years. Hull provided a very nice summary.
Rex Simmons, Mawson
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