The fate of the Australian War Memorial’s award-winning exhibition space, Anzac Hall, could be decided this week with a decision from the Federal Environment Minister due by Friday about whether to approve its demolition.
A decision on the $498 million redevelopment proposal that includes knocking down Anzac Hall, currently under assessment as a ‘controlled action’ under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), has already been delayed once.
A report from the Australian Parliament’s Public Works Committee into the project is also yet to be tabled following an inquiry that received a record number of public submissions, 80 per cent of which opposed or expressed concern with the proposal.
Ahead of the decision, the Australian Institute of Architects is renewing its efforts to stop what it describes as a wasteful and unnecessary demolition of a highly-valued public space in a move that would also seriously undermine the integrity of Australia’s heritage protections.
The Institute has today launched a social media campaign inviting all Australians to share stories of their experiences visiting Anzac Hall as a way of showing their support for saving it.
Past National President and #handsoffAnzacHall campaign spokesperson Clare Cousins said the campaign aims to raise awareness in the community about the proposed demolition.
“The Australian War Memorial management has undertaken what must be one of the most misleading and inadequate community consultations for any major public project on record,” Ms Cousins said.
“Nowhere in any of their limited public consultation materials do they mention demolishing Anzac Hall.
“Yet overwhelmingly the demolition is raised as a concern every time public submissions are invited.
“This debate is not ‘just about a building’ as the Australian War Memorial Director has claimed, but about Anzac Hall’s heritage and social value as home to two decades’ worth of shared moments and treasured memories.
“A visit to Anzac Hall is part of the annual pilgrimage to Canberra for countless students around the country and has been for decades.
“Generations of school students have had their hearts and imaginations fired in Anzac Hall, captivated by stories of courage and service to our country.
“We hope this campaign will provide decision makers with yet more evidence that the community does not support destroying Anzac Hall, which is unquestionably one of Australia’s most iconic exhibition spaces.”