Liberal Senator for the ACT Gary Humphries writes:
Back in October this year, it was revealed in Senate estimates that, due to funding cuts, the Australian War Memorial Council considered closing the Memorial one day a week as well as cutting the very popular Christmas Carols event.
Since then, we’ve seen the release of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ “Red Book” which tells us of a bleak outlook for this iconic national institution.
The “Red Book” states that the AWM will close one day a week in 2011, it tells us that one in five staff will lose their jobs and also points the finger squarely at the Government, saying that Labor has refused to provide a requested $5 million extra in the budget.
Further, it confirms that there has been a 20 per cent cut in the AWM’s budget since Labor came to office.
As a young uni student, I remember to this day my first visit to the War Memorial and the very significant impact it had on me.
The saddest thing, for me, about the end result of these cuts is that Australians, young and old, may well have the quality of their experience of the AWM compromised in future.
The whole team at the Memorial do a fantastic job and always go above and beyond to recognise each and every Australian who have put their lives at risk or made the ultimate sacrifice to make our country’s future secure.
Unfortunately, despite the patent pressure the AWM is under, the Government’s solution has been to announce a review into funding. Although this is a baby step in the right direction, with such a bleak outlook the Government must take the adult approach and reinvest.
$5 million is just a fraction of what the Government have spent on fixing pink batts, on fixing school hall stuff-ups and on getting Oprah out. Surely our National War Memorial is equally, if not more, deserving of that money?
I am still hopeful that Labor will find its moral compass this Christmas and reinvest in one of Australia’s most prominent and evocative institutions.