War & Waste 

The Australian War Memorial in Canberra will blow a cool $500 million to expand again over the next nine years. But there is no war on waste there – apparently there is no limit in this war-loving country to our memorial/museum. Politicians are cowed into acquiescence to this extravagance because of the untouchable, sacred Anzackery that we worship these days. 

To make way for this glossy mega-expansion they’re gunna demolish the award-winning Anzac Hall building designed by Denton Corker Marshal and in service only since 2001. The Australian Institute of Architecture has called the new plan “a colossal waste of taxpayer dollars and a mark of disrespect”. That’s understatement, not hyperbole. 

Architectural desecration is a government disease both Federally and particularly in NSW, with demolition of ANZ Stadium, the Sydney Convention Centre, soon Powerhouse Museum, etc. Philistinism is the bacterial infection feeding the disease.

What about the carbon footprint and waste of embedded energy in all this demolition? Apparently the world is also running out of suitable sand to make concrete, and in some cases it comes from our beaches. Dubai’s desert sand grains are not the right structure to bond in concrete, so they import ours – go Aussie!

And what about re-purposing buildings, or doing with less grandiosity, or just less generally. Seriously, we’ve gotta re-think all this rabid consumption of buildings, home ‘renos’ included. Actually it’s an endemic national disease, both public and private.



  1. Agree with your sentiments. You may be interested in a letter to the Minister in August 2019 by a former Director of the AWM (Brendon Kelson) who provides some detailed argument for leaving the existing AWM untouched – see https://johnmenadue.com/brendon-kelson-letter-to-minister-for-veterans-and-defence-personnel/
    Brendon Kelson (not to be confused with Brendan Nelson!) has also written to the PM declaring the expansion – involving demolition of Anzac Hall – an unnecessary “act of architectural vandalism”.
    (Brendon is a friend through theatre connections and I have discussed the issue with him).

  2. Thanks a lot Dick, very interesting input from Kelson, to learn about the Mitchell option and the extent of local opposition to the mega-project. I didn’t raise the memorial vs museum problem, but we’re obviously already slipping down that slope. (Hey, if you transpose the letters O,K into the recent director’s name you get BK’s name?)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s