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Labor lodges FOI request on Anzac Cove tragedy.



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MEDIA RELEASE

Anthony Albanese MP Shadow Minister for the Environment and Heritage Federal Member for Grayndler

18 April 2005

LABOR LODGES FOI REQUEST ON ANZAC COVE TRAGEDY

One of Australia’s leading authorities on the Gallipoli landing, Mike Bowers, today declared he was “absolutely shocked” by the dramatic changes to Anzac Cove created by the road works. Mr Bowers also revealed that a road worker had given him a human bone uncovered by the road works.

Mr Bowers, the co-author of Gallipoli: Untold Stories, said the road works had “dramatically changed” the area and would change the way the Anzac story would now be told. He said that the sacred area of Ari Burnu [translated as ‘bee’s nose”] now looks like a “bee’s broken leg”.

The Howard Government has known for two years that road works at Anzac Cove would damage extensively the site of the original landings at Gallipoli and disturb human remains.

The Government asked for the road works to be done but seeks to avoid any responsibility for the consequences.

The local supervisor for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Ian McQuigg, has told the Sydney Morning Herald that “Anzac is just one big huge burial site, with bones turning up all over the place, especially since the road works began.”

John Howard promised on Insiders on ABC TV on 13 March that road works would stop if human remains were found. Instead, the road works appear to have been sped up.

The Government must come clean. It must tell Australians what, if any, heritage assessments were conducted prior to the road works being requested in August 2004 and what monitoring was put in place to ensure the heritage and integrity of the site was maintained during the road works.

John Howard still hasn’t responded to a 19 March 2005 letter from Australian archaeologist, Dr David Cameron, in which he detailed his April 2003 briefings of Australian Government officials on his discovery of human remains at Anzac Cove.

John Howard still hasn’t responded to my questions in Parliament on 17 March.

On 10 March he stated it was “regrettable” questions were even being asked.

Late last week, I lodged an extensive Freedom of Information request to extract some answers as to how the Government could have sat idly by while this tragedy unfolded as a result of its own request for these road works.

As the 90th Anniversary of the ANZAC landings approaches it is time for the Government to stop the spin and start to answer these legitimate questions.

Attached: FOI request

Monday, 18 April 2005

For further information/comment: Antony Sachs 0417 493 485

14 April 2005

The FOI Coordinator Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet 3-5 National Circuit BARTON ACT 2600

Dear Sir / Madam

Re: FOI request in relation to the road works at Anzac Cove

Under the Commonwealth Freedom of Information Act 1982, I seek access to the following document(s):

(1) All documents held by the Department relating to the road works and/or associated construction and earth moving work undertaken in 2004 and 2005 at or in the vicinity of Anzac Cove, Gallipoli (the Road Work), including but not limited to:

a. papers prepared by the Department in connection with the Road Work and/or or preparation for the Road Work;

b. correspondence, notes or other material received either in written or electronic form from a Department, Ministerial office, archaeologist, heritage expert, student, or other organisation in relation to the Road Work and/or or preparation for the Road Work;

c. any notes made by Departmental officers and/or Ministerial advisers at meetings relating to the Road Work and/or or preparation for the Road Work, including but not limited to hand-written notes; and

d. documentation of the outcome of the meeting, including but not limited to file notes prepared by the Departmental officers and/or Ministerial advisers.

(2) All documents held by the Department relating to the heritage listing of Anzac Cove, Gallipoli, under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the Act), or possible World heritage listing or other form of heritage listing of the site, including but not limited to:

a. papers prepared by the Department in connection with the heritage values of Anzac Cove;

b. correspondence, notes or other material received in written or electronic form from a Department, Ministerial office, archaeologist, student, or other organisation in relation to the heritage values of Anzac Cove;

c. any notes made by Departmental officers and/or Ministerial advisers at meetings relating to the heritage values of Anzac Cove, included but not limited to hand-written notes;

d. documentation of the outcome of the meeting, including but not limited to file notes prepared by Departmental officers and/or Ministerial advisers; and

e. heritage or archaeological studies and/or surveys of the Anzac Cove area conducted since 1996.

(3) All documents held by the Department relating to heritage or archaeological studies and/or surveys of the Anzac Cove area conducted since 1996.

(4) All documents held by the Department relating to proposed heritage or archaeological studies and/or surveys of the Anzac Cove area, including grant applications for such a study or survey.

(5) All records of communications between the Prime Minister and/or the Minister for Environment and Heritage and/or the Minister for Veterans Affairs and/or the Minister for Foreign Affair and Trade and/or Ministerial advisers and/or Departmental officers and/or the Office of Australian War Graves and/or the Turkish Government concerning:

a. the Road Work and/or or preparation for the Road Work; and/or

b. the heritage listing of Anzac Cove, Gallipoli, under the Act or possible World heritage listing or other form of heritage listing of the site.

(6) All records of any meetings between the Prime Minister and/or the Minister for Environment and Heritage and/or the Minister for Veterans Affairs and/or the Minister for Foreign Affair and Trade and/or Ministerial advisers and/or Departmental officers and and/or the Office of Australian War Graves and/or the Turkish Government concerning:

a. the Road Work and/or or preparation for the Road Work; and/or

b. the heritage listing of Anzac Cove, Gallipoli, under the Act or possible World heritage listing or other form of heritage listing of the site,

including but not limited to hand-written file notes.

(7) All documents containing analysis by the Department of:

a. the Road Work and/or or preparation for the Road Work; and/or

b. the heritage listing of Anzac Cove, Gallipoli, under the Act,

(8) All records of communication between the Department and Dr David W Cameron and/or Dr Peter Dowling relating to Anzac Cove or the Gallipoli area, including but not limited to analysis, comments or notes by Departmental officers relating to information provided by Dr Cameron or Dr Dowling.

The form of access I prefer is a copy of the documents.

If you decide that any part of the documents I have requested are technically exempt, I urge you to use the discretionary power in Section 14 of the Act to release the documents as the objects of FOI, Section 3 require.

If you decide to withhold any information I urge you to delete only the parts you claim are exempt and release the rest to me, as Section 22 of the Act requires.

If my request is refused, please ensure your Section 26 Notice includes all your reasons and my rights of appeal.

I also wish to foreshadow that it is my intention to seek a remission of the charges in full on the grounds that accessing the documents would be in the public interest. In so doing, I direct your attention to Memo Number 29 of the Attorney General’s Department, Civil Law Division (4/11/92) concerning FOI fees and charges.

You are required to consider whether the benefit of the release of the information will flow to the public at large (i.e. will the information be made publicly available). As the documents are sought in the course of my parliamentary activities and not for private, personal or constituent use, I contend that the end-use question is satisfied.

You are also required, when considering whether the release of the specific information is in the public interest, to have regard to the contents of the documents and the context of their release. As the documents relate directly to a matter of public controversy, I would contend that the documents may contain material valuable to public debate.

Although there is no automatic remission of fees in the public interest for Members of Parliament, the information sought is of a kind usually provided in answers to a Parliamentary Question (eg. at Senate Estimates), or provided by the government in response to a Senate order for the production of documents.

Therefore, the various tests advanced by the guidelines in relation to public interest have been satisfied and the relevant charges should be waived.

Finally, I draw your attention to those aspects of the guidelines that require if you conclude access is in the public interest then a full (as opposed to a partial) remission should be granted.

I look forward to your acknowledgment of my request and your decision as soon as possible, but in any case, within 30 days.

Should you wish to discuss my request, please contact Mr Antony Sachs in my office on 02 9564 3588.

Yours sincerely

Anthony Albanese MP Shadow Minister for Environment and Heritage