Many of the recent critics of the War Memorial redevelopment clearly just don't understand the full role of the AWM. From its very earliest conception by Charles Bean, it was to be uniquely multifaceted - a memorial, a museum and a place of research.
The memorial aspect is not being changed. Admiral Barrie will still be able to visit for quiet reflection in the Memorial Courtyard and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. These are not impacted.
But the AWM has always had displays. For example, visitors first encounter a bullet-ridden boat from the Gallipoli landing. Is that an "offensive war machine" to be hidden away?
And "G for George", with its sound and light show, was an integral part of the Anzac Hall display and a favourite with visitors.
I wonder if Admiral Barrie, or others who worry about displays of hardware, also found that offensive, and would therefore have opposed the construction of Anzac Hall in the first place. But times and technology move on, and as any museum curator will know, attracting and retaining attention with an old photo or rusty tin helmet just no longer works. Displays have to evolve, and visitors now want a "touch and feel" experience. The redevelopment plans have to deliver this, and the AWM is not alone in updating its presentations.
In my humble opinion, Anzac Hall is an unattractive monolithic structure, now too small to meet its intended purpose. I look forward to the redevelopment, and I'm sure most of us will proudly take our visitors to the new building when it's finished, to both reflect on our history and to better understand it. I also predict that very soon those architects now complaining will be championing the new works as evidence of the skill and imagination of their profession.
Kym MacMillan, O'Malley
Times and technology move on, and as any museum curator will know, attracting and retaining attention with an old photo or rusty tin helmet just no longer works.Kym MacMillan, O'Malley
A very sad outcome
The good news in Tuesday's front-page announcement ("Anzac Hall to fall as AWM plan approved", June 8) for me is that my mother did not live to hear it. She visited Canberra when the memorial to Bomber Command opened in the AWM grounds - evoking not the might of armaments, but the danger, blindness and destruction of that campaign. With her for that ceremony was a small crowd of ageing veterans, quietly erect in demeanour, one-time comrades of her brother.
Ted had been piloting a Lancaster - V for Victor - out of Kelsen, with an Australian, English and a Czech crew from August 1944. At the beginning of November they volunteered for a mass raid over the Ruhr Valley within a day of returning from their 29th mission, borrowing a plane as theirs required servicing.
Their luck finally ran out, no consolation to my mother and her family. She visited Ted in Reichswald Imperial War Cemetery in 1953 and again in 1973, near where they came down; his rushed letters from training and deployment were a privately treasured substitute for solid information on the circumstances of his death.
My mother was not interested in machines of war. She had campaigned against the Vietnam deployment, but for recognition of Indigenous servicemen's contribution to Australia's defence. Would those letters - and the story they tell - fit in an AWM turned over to displaying the militarisation of Australia's place in the world?
Stephen Horn, Melba
In the face of opposition
The rat-cunning, piecemeal approach to development approvals adopted by the Fyshwick waste moguls and the Manuka Parisienne hotel proponent has now been replicated in the National Capital Authority's approval of demolition and tree-removal at our National War Memorial.
Approvals for these developments were delivered in the face of overwhelming community opposition. The first development has provided a government-owned white elephant rail freight terminal; the second cheats Manuka of essential parking; and the last demolishes a much-treasured public heritage building.
B Moore Kingston
Help our Afghan helpers
Local Afghan employees of the ADF should have their visas expedited ("Praise for interpreter amid calls to expedite Afghan visas", June 9, p3). Recently The New York Times described how a desperate Afghan helicopter pilot escaped with his family to America, because of the Taliban's threat to "find him and kill him". He was also an Hazara, a minority ethnic group repeatedly attacked by the Taliban and the Islamic State.
A welcome example is British plans to accelerate visas for Afghans who worked with its military forces. That was described by the Home Secretary as "a moral obligation".
Leaving endangered Afghans behind is morally irresponsible. Visas for them now. Please.
Peter Graves, Curtin
Insulting comments on China
Re: "Taiwan will defend its democracy" (Letters, June 9), Bill Stefaniak's nonsense that "the US does only recognise one China, but also recognises that until Taiwan and mainland China wish to reunite peacefully, the rights of the free people of Taiwan must be respected and protected" is classic double-speak that could only be written by a politician. Would the US allow any small part of the US to secede? Do any countries allow secession without national approval?
Does even Bill support unilateral secession? Suppose China convinced the citizens of the iron ore-rich area of Western Australia to secede from Australia, to be able to keep all profits from the ore for themselves. Would Bill support such secession and an obligation on China to enforce it?
Why would anyone in 1950 have assumed that in 2021 Korea would be "ruled by a homicidal glutton"? Are China and Vietnam now ruled by such people? Have all regimes "anointed" by the US since 1950 been saintly?
In his first paragraph, Bill accuses China of being a "brutal dictatorship". That is extremely insulting. Does he think that the people of China would prefer to be governed by a democracy like India, and thus have their GDP reduced by about 80 per cent? A strong apology seems appropriate.
Bob Salmond, Melba
An idiotic decision on waste
The recent decision of the ACT government to close the bulky waste facility at Belconnen from July is truly an idiotic decision. Belconnen has 100,000 residents, which will grow by at least another 40,000 residents with the Ginniderry development in the next decade.
The capacity of the green bins is only 56 litres of green waste, limited to 3-centimetre-wide branches. Should the 140,000 residents of Belconnen be expected to drive to the Mugga Lane tip 25 kilometres away? I would not be surprised if all the bulky waste after July is dropped in the minister's driveway instead, so he may get the message.
Rohan Goyne, Evatt
Whitaker's wisdom re Telstra
In the June 7 issue of The Canberra Times, p21, your correspondent eloquently describes his nightmare dealing with Telstra to sort out his moving his internet service to another provider of his choice.
As a Telstra monthly Direct Debit pre-paid mobile customer of many years, I was recently invited by the Company's group executive (consumer and small business) to complete an online survey about my service experience.
Just prior to this invitation, I experienced a significant drop in the service's functionality (eg no text messaging and others) seemingly resulting from the company's failure to apply the direct debit. Concurrently with the company's regular advice to me of the upcoming due direct debit, I was invited to consider on two occasions an extra-cost upgrade, which I did not want.
To resolve the drop in service experienced, I had to change my direct debit arrangement through my Telstra account, including action to restore my full paid-for functionality.
On May 20 I wrote to the company's group executive, by name, expressing my displeasure at the lack of advice about the service payment system being not applied and the diminution of service. I'm still waiting for an explanation. I know, there are other providers in the market.
Martin Devine, Macarthur
Past isn't coming back
How can Douglas Mackenzie justify his grand claim that "working from home would have led to improved family life and personal relationships" (Letters, June 8)?
Statistics suggest that the world has socially and economically changed so dramatically in the past 20 or more years that families having kids is happening less and less, added to the fact that relationships have taken on a such a totally different meaning that governments are now forced by necessity to acknowledge that the economic and social past is a memory that is not coming back.
What we are now seeing around the world however, due to the massive ageism taking place in developed and developing societies, is a lot more doddery old farts trying to recreate past dreams.
Wayne Grant, Swinger Hill
TO THE POINT
SPIN AND DECEPTION
PM Morrison's evangelistic spiel on 'world order that favours freedom' at the coming G7+ meeting is pure spin and deception. His attempt at ingratiating himself with the USA body politic by attacking China on Covid has created a crisis for our export industries and driven a wedge into co-operative pandemic research.
Had a more diplomatic approach been taken to the investigation on the origins of COVID, we could have been in a very different situation regarding the cause of the disease.
Gerry Gillespie, Queanbeyan
I hope the Queensland authorities throw the proverbial book at that coronavirus-positive Victorian woman (and her husband) who deliberately broke Victorian quarantine restrictions to travel to Queensland via NSW, potentially infecting many people with COVID-19 along the way. How utterly selfish and irresponsible. The same goes for the Melbourne family caught breaching the NZ travel bubble rules after driving from Melbourne to Sydney and then flying to Auckland last week.
Don Sephton, Greenway
CHANGE IT IF NECESSARY
In news item "Praise for interpreter amid calls to expedite Afghan visas" (June 9, p3) we are told "it is not clear if the evacuation can proceed under current travels restrictions." Well, Home Affairs, use your initiative and change the damn restrictions if they are holding things up.
Bill Deane, Chapman
FUND OTHER MUSEUMS
Let us hope the government provides $70 million for CSIRO for a new building for their collections (June 9, p6). Just add some money for a Natural History Museum and you have something for our future. Unlike $500 million wasted on the AWM.
Phil Creaser, Canberra City
TIME FOR A CHANGE
Perhaps the time has come to consider changing the name of the war memorial in Canberra to the Australian War Museum and Memorial?
R. Richards, Cook
RELIGION OF KINDNESS
Dalai Lama XIV: "My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness." Scott Morrison and his Home Affairs Minister, Karen Andrews, should try that religion for a change. They might then see their way clear in doing the right thing by the Biloela asylum-seeker family incarcerated on Christmas Island.
Rajend Naidu, Glenfield, NSW
A FLAWED EXAMPLE
If Roger Dace (Letters, June 10) wants to logically compare the Biloela case with the "next boat that arrives with a pregnant woman on board", he would do better to choose a more relevant example.
Eric Hunter, Cook
WE CAN ONLY WONDER
The United States has suffered the highest total death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic (so far), but that is partly due to the size of its population. The deaths per million figure reveals that it is the 18th-worst-hit country, just behind the UK, and that 15 of the 20 worst-hit countries are in Europe by this standard (Worldometer, June 10). One can only imagine how much lower the US would be on that awful metric if it had had a competent and sane leader from the beginning of this crisis.
Bede North, Turner
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