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Monday, 6 December 1999
Page: 12890


Mr FORREST (10:11 PM) —by leave—I wanted an opportunity to place on the public record my appreciation for the Australian War Memorial. The member for Pearce introduced two reports from the Public Works Committee here tonight. The member for Herbert has spoken about the first of those. What happens at our War Memorial is something that, as Australians, we ought to have as a focus point as a source of national pride. Over the years I have had the opportunity to visit the War Memorial—before I entered parliament, with my family, and since then with my family—and I have seen the way in which the memorial has changed and modified the way it exhibits the special memorials that are down there.

I place on record a commendation to the Director of the Australian War Memorial, Major General Stephen Gower AO, for the work he has done. I cannot think of a more fitting project that qualifies for support through the government's Federation initiative than Anzac Hall, which the second report addresses. It is a great opportunity to further place on exhibit memorials of Australia's war experience and of our history that are currently not easily accessible for the public to see. Whilst the member for Herbert spoke about the first report, which is really history in the making—a new experiment in terms of collocation in the training of our defence forces and senior ranks—I refer to our proud military history which will be on exhibit at the memorial.

In relation to the issue which the member for Pearce has made reference to, the National Capital Authority's insistence that $2 million be spent on a roof that very few people will look at, that money would be far better spent on an exhibit inside the building. I am hoping that the authority will come to a point and accept the modern material—albeit, Colorbond. It really is only a colour and, with all of the textures available these days, it can be made to be an acceptable perspective from Mount Ainslie.

At the end of the day, it is the memorial itself that we want Australians to have access to. In the last 12 months, 800,000-plus people have visited the memorial. That number is growing every year. It is interesting to look at the statistics of the age groups that visit the memorial. It is not an older generation, as we might expect; it is young people, young children, young families with their children, all on their own search to find something about a father, a grandfather or an uncle's participation in the war experience. I commend both of these reports to the House and thank the House for the opportunity to speak to them.