Shadow Cabinet opposes placing the Australian War Memorial amidst partisan debate
Shadow Cabinet has opposed any move that could put the Australian War Memorial at the centre of partisan political debate, saying its sanctity as a shrine of remembrance to Australian servicemen and women who made sacrifices in conflicts against an external foe, must be preserved.
Former Deputy Prime Minister and Shadow Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Barnaby Joyce, said the Coalition recognised the historic conflicts between Europeans and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations referred to by some as the ‘frontier wars’; and recognised the historic internecine conflicts amongst Australia’s first nations’ peoples.
“The fundamental element is that the War Memorial was built in sacred recognition of wars that Australians fought as a nation, unified against an external foe. It is not to be a memorial for conflicts within Australia”, he said.
“The truth of both is absolute but the fundamental element is different. There are many memorials in Australia and in Canberra that represent the ultimate sacrifice of the person who lays down their life for others in a noble cause, but they are not all in the Australian War Memorial. This does not judge the value of those lives as different.
“Shadow Cabinet resolved that conflicts involving first nations’ people are best remembered at Ngurra, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Precinct, for which design work is already underway”, Mr Joyce said.
The new Ngurra facility, which the former Coalition Government had already committed nearly $320 million towards, will be built in the Parliamentary Triangle between Old Parliament House and the Australian War Memorial, in the heart of the nation’s capital.
“It’s positioning between the Australian War Memorial and the Parliament, by its very location, is a better philosophical representation of the issues pertinent to internal conflict as opposed to a common sacrifice against an external foe”, he said.
“It is proposed this will be both a learning centre and a national resting place for the care of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ancestral remains. Over time, Ngurra will collect its own traditions and rituals that will be born from its national status as a place to celebrate, educate, reflect, and commemorate”, he said.
Mr Joyce said the Australian War Memorial was a place of unity which remembered all those who had fought for Australia, for a common purpose against a common foe.
“Conflicts within Australia that pitted Australians against other Australians in our own land, in some instances internecine, should be represented and discussed in a memorial that takes into account this significant difference, and not at the Australian War Memorial which has its philosophical remit in the carnage suffered by those who went to fight for Australia in the First World War”, Mr Joyce said.
The Hon. Barnaby Joyce MP
Member for New England
Shadow Minister for Veterans’ Affairs
Dear Mr. Joyce,
As a 3rd Generation War Veteran (Grandfather WW1, Father WW2 and myself Vietnam 1970/71, (and definitely not a “woke” individual or Greens supporter under any circumstances) I can only express my thanks and support for your stance on this issue. Unfortunately, in this day and age, the sacrifices made by all who offered and those who gave their all, in defence of this ever declining democracy, are not at all appreciated by the younger generation, or those who never served.
TPI Vietnam Veteran.
Dear Mr Joyce.
I thank you for your explanation of the purpose, tradition and function of the Australian War Memorial. I can only hope the modern generations also learn to appreciate this wonderful Memorial to our fallen, regardless of their ethnicity, who gave their all in the name of Australia. My uncle served in The Great War at the Somme and was presented with the French Légion d’Honneur before he passed at the age of 103 years. I served with 2SQN RAAF at Phan Rang, South Vietnam 1970-1971.
The AWM is a memorial to ALL who served and sacrificed for Australia. To single out one particular group over the others is to diminish the sacrifices of ALL.
As much as the events that occurred during colonisation need to be understood, the AWM is for the recognition of those “Australians” who fought as Australians. And they include our aboriginal brothers in arms as well as those from any ethnic background (as long as they were Australians). With Australia being formed in1901, it would seem appropriate that the Boer War, which straddled that date, should be the starting point for recognition of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
If the, so called, Frontier Wars are included, then why not Eureka stockade? Or is this all about race?