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Thursday, 26 June 2008
Page: 3504

Senator CARR (Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research) (1:03 PM) —The Military Memorials of National Significance Bill 2008 delivers the government’s election commitment to provide national status for the Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial in Ballarat. And no matter how much pumped up self-aggrandisement comes from the opposition, no matter how much hypocrisy and grandstanding comes from the opposition, you will not change this fact. This bill delivers an election promise. The memorial is the result of the outstanding efforts of the Ballarat RSL, the Ex-Prisoners of War Association, the city and the people of Ballarat to recognise the bravery and sacrifice of more than 35,000 Australian prisoners of war during the Boer War, the two World Wars and the Korean War.

The Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial in Ballarat will be the first memorial to be declared under this bill. The bill will also provide a mechanism to enable in the future other memorials that are located outside the Australian Capital Territory and meet the criteria specified in the bill to be accorded national memorial status. The national status of memorials in the ACT is governed by the National Memorials Ordinance 1928 and this mechanism restricts memorials to within the ACT. However, the ordinance does not preclude the granting of national status through another mechanism to the memorials outside of the Australian Capital Territory. No matter what level of sophistry, no matter what level of semantics is pursued by the opposition, this bill achieves the national recognition that is so rightly deserved for this memorial.

The bill will establish a clear process and stringent criteria to be applied when determining future national status of military memorials of national significance outside of the Australian Capital Territory. The responsibility, the ongoing maintenance and the refurbishment of the declared memorial will remain with the authority which owns or manages that memorial. I acknowledge the commitment and the fine work of the various levels of government in establishing and maintaining memorials around Australia during the last century, and I trust that we will continue to preserve these important components of our heritage. This legislation will support the strong traditions of commemoration in Australian communities recognising significant memorials that are worthy of being declared national memorials.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.