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Wednesday, 19 November 1986
Page: 2482

Senator SHEIL —My question is to the Minister for Veterans' Affairs and relates to the holding of the Veterans' Entitlements Act proclamation function at the Australian War Memorial. I ask the Minister whether there was any happening, memorandum or message from the Australian War Memorial to the Minister's office or the Minister which caused the senior staffer of the Minister, Ms Cynthia Martin, to issue the minute referred to in the Ken Jones report which says:


the Minister-

would like a ceremony arranged at the Australian War Memorial.

Senator GIETZELT —There have been a number of suggestions from the Opposition that there was opposition to this action from the Australian War Memorial or other interested bodies. I checked that matter out some time ago with the Returned Services League and found that there were no difficulties as far as the League was concerned. Following a question asked of me yesterday I referred to my files. I have a document which establishes very clearly the view of the Director of the Australian War Memorial. I am quite happy to table it. It is a summary of the meeting with me at 5.15 p.m. on 31 July 1986 at which were present Mr Flemming, Mr Volker, Mr Hansen and Mrs Robson, the latter two from my personal staff. The meeting flowed from comments made by Mr Fischer on the day on which the function was held at the Australian War Memorial. Mr Fischer said that he had been handed certain documents by the Australian War Memorial officers-`officials' I think was the word he used-and that there was some criticism about the holding of such a function.

In due course, I interviewed the officer charged with the administration of the Australian War Memorial, Mr Flemming. It is true that I did not do that until 31 July. That was largely to meet the wishes of the Chairman of the Australian War Memorial Council, who was on holiday overseas, and because I was unavailable because of my commitments as an officer of the Australian Labor Party. I inform Senator Sheil that this document was given to the Director and he accepted it as a true record of what took place at the meeting. Mrs Robson took notes and this document is a precis of what took place at the meeting. Referring to the Director, the document states:

He said he felt it was entirely proper and appropriate for the ceremony to be held at the AWM. He said that Dame Beryl had attended, and that both he and the Chairman thought it had gone off very well.

I table the document for the benefit of the Opposition.