Summary of the meeting on 23 March 2011
280 people attended the meeting. After the addresses and discussion, three
motions were passed unanimously:
The speakers were:
- This meeting records that the community does not want these memorials and the project must not proceed.
- The national memorials statute must be amended to require full community consultation.
- This meeting resolves that a delegation of individuals seek a meeting with the Prime Minister (Chair of the Canberra National Memorials Committee) to urge her intervention to stop the proposal.
Air Marshal David Evans, former chief of the RAAF, and former chair of the NCA
Dr Michael McKernan, historian, broadcaster, and commentator
- Has spoken to more than 100 ex-service men and women. Ninety-nine percent are opposed to these memorials
- The ACT branches of the RSL, the Naval Association, and the RAAF Association are all opposed to the memorials
- None of those service organisations will provide funding
- No-one could possibly suggest that the magnificent existing AWM and the memorials along Anzac Parade do not honour and revere Australia's war dead
- When AM Evans was chair of the NCA, protocols were developed for memorials. Never was anything to intrude on Burley Griffin's axis. The Rond Terraces were for community use
Neil James, Executive Director, Australia Defence Association
- Has two great-uncles buried in France. Both are recognised on the Roll of Honour
- All veterans are recognised in unit records, in displays of uniforms, in the Halls of the AWM, in small town memorials
- The genius of the existing AWM is in representing people as individuals
- Our veterans are individuals; they do not need a remote block of concrete to represent their story
- There can be no better tribute to those men and women than the memorial we
already have: 'Here is their spirit, in the heart of the land they loved'
Geoff Pryor, former cartoonist and associate editor, the Canberra Times
- The vista along Anzac Parade serves as a permanent reminder to all who see it of the contribution made by our service men and women
- The true memory for those who served is seeing their mates' names on the Roll of Honour
- Commemoration is a private experience
- It's best done by the existing AWM and the generic memorials along Anzac Parade
Brendon Kelson, former director, Australian War Memorial
- These two monoliths would have no relevance, because no-one would visit them
- A born- and bred-Canberran, he is worried by what's happening to our city
Shane Rattenbury, Speaker, ACT Legislative Assembly
- Nothing breaks the perfect line of sight from Parliament House to the AWM, five kilometres away, and that's how it was meant to be
- That perfect vista represents the continuity of the Anzac tradition
- The AWM is the sanctuary of Australian tradition
- The heart of the AWM is the record of the men and women who fought in the two most terrible wars in our history
- It is simply 'daft' to suggest two monoliths could possibly add to this
Dr Dianne Firth, Head of Landscape Architecture, University of Canberra
- The existing memorials are already a fitting tribute
- The monoliths would be an unnecessary addition to the Canberra landscape. Canberra's beauty lies in its simplicity
- The monoliths also would intrude into the open areas around the lake.
- They would replace sport and recreation and are unwelcome generally.
Dr Sue Wareham, Medical Association for the Prevention of War
- Heritage is about protecting the places we value
- Don't the people supporting this proposal recognise the representation of democracy inherent in heritage?
- The proposed memorials contravene the specific identification of the Rond Terraces for recreation
- They would destroy the whole vision of this area, and they would destroy Griffin's vision
- This is simply the wrong place
Rosemarie Willett, Architect, Walter Burley Griffin Society
- The things a nation chooses to honour says a great deal about how its people see themselves
- Canberra already has some 36 war memorials
- To claim that those who served in the two world wars are not properly recognised is simply untrue. How many is enough?
- We are at risk of excessive militarism in defining ourselves
- What would our diggers think of the behind-closed-doors business that has led to approval of these monoliths?
- Unlike the AWM, this proposal symbolises militarism and grandeur
Brett Odgers, Political and regulatory analyst
- Walter Burley Griffin set out this vista to represent democratic life
- It is perhaps the most important vista in Canberra
- It is the form of the existing AWM that gives the vista soul, symbolising the terrors of war and the human struggle
- Nature, the gift of life, death, mystery - the AWM has provided a place of pilgrimage for all Australians
- The monoliths would destroy this
- They would represent a flaw in our democratic process
Gary Rake, Chief Executive of the National Capital Authority
- The committee that approved these monoliths was informed by misleading briefs and papers
- Their procedures were inconsistent with the statute
- The approvals are patently invalid
- They also are glaring examples of the neglect of the ACT
- Explained the regulatory processes
- He will brief the NCA Board on the proceedings of this meeting
Geoff Page, Internationally-renowned Australian poet
Marion Halligan, Award-winning Australian writer and novelist
- Both world wars are already sufficiently well-memorialised
- These monoliths would add insult to injury to indigenous Australians, whose wars against European invaders were officially recognised as such by the colonies of New South Wales and Victoria, but are still not acknowledged
- World Wars I and II were entirely different. To link them in the manner proposed with these monoliths would be facile
- The monoliths are grandiose, excessive, and triumphalist
- One of the things we love about Canberra is that it's a city of the imagination
- We should keep imagining the spirit of what Canberra stands for
- As soon as you think of these memorials, you can see they don't fit
- They're large and brutalist
- We could do many more better things with $25 million
- Let's keep imagining our national capital
Statements of support were read to the meeting from people who could not attend:
Comments from the audience
'We've heard about approval process - what about social process? Why hasn't community approval been sought?'
These monoliths will 'normalise our militaristic culture'
'Enough is enough. This is all about the psychology of war memorials.'
'People who served don't need memorials: it's in their heads'
'Very disappointed that none of the MDC attended tonight. Who really wants these memorials?'
'Those who've been to war don't need memorials.'
'Use any money for welfare'.
'The National Trust strongly opposes these memorials. Evidence has not been provided to justify them. They will adversely affect the views.'
'Would like to see the Aboriginal nations represented on Anzac Parade. End the denial of what's happened in this country.'
'The proposal is an insult to the AWM, and to all the work it does.'
'What would those who died in these terrible conflicts want? That it should never happen again.'
'How can we keep this wonderful axis, this representation of democracy?'
'Unlike the existing AWM, no-one will visit the monoliths.'
Audio recordings of audience comments are available:
First comment (1:46)
Second comment (0:52)
Third comment (1:08)
Fourth comment (3:02)
Fifth comment (4:55)
Sixth comment -- National Trust (1:17)
Seventh comment (2:12)
Eighth comment (1:00)
Ninth comment (2:39)
Tenth comment (2:21)
Eleventh comment, with first answer (2:27)
Second answer (0:56)
Twelfth comment (1:47)
The meeting concluded (12:08) with motions
put to the meeting, which were passed unanimously. Many people who made the
evening possible were thanked, and Gary Rake invited people to register for the
public consultation on 13 April.