Chapter 3 Reforming the process
The preceding chapters, highlighting the history and problems with the
Ordinance, raise two possibilities for reform:
n the Ordinance could
be retained, but with both the Ordinance and the Canberra National Memorials Committee
being substantially modernised; or
n the Ordinance could
be repealed and the CNMC could be consigned to history. In its place, a new
model of approving National Memorials could be adopted. The JSCNCET strongly
prefers this option.
The JSCNCET notes that much of the evidence presented to it presumes the
continued existence of the Ordinance and the CNMC in some form. Indeed, the
terms of reference for the inquiry invite consideration in these terms rather
than addressing more radical alternatives.
Nonetheless, the JSCNCET believes that much of the evidence presented
for the reform of the approvals process for National Memorials could just as
easily support a more radical change. The principles that would need to be
included in any reform of existing arrangements apply equally to the
Committee’s preferred option for a new process.
Regardless of whether the Ordinance is retained or replaced, there are a
number of features of the approvals process which demand reform. The evidence presented to the
JSCNCET, outlined in Chapter 2, indicates that there are significant problems
with the Ordinance and therefore the operation of the CNMC. These problems
n Lack of clarity and
structure in decision making
n Inadequate treatment
of heritage issues
n Inadequate access to
independent expert advice
n Lack of transparency
in decision making processes
n Lack of effective
n Lack of public
participation in decision making
n Inadequate definition
of important issues, such as ‘what is a National Memorial?’
n Lack of supporting
documentation, such as plans and guidelines.
In this Chapter, the JSCNCET will look at the evidence focussed on the
reform of the Ordinance and the CNMC, beginning with its membership, with a
view to possible changes to the Ordinance, but also with a view to a moving
beyond the Ordinance towards more comprehensive change.
Proposals for change
The membership of the Canberra National Memorials Committee is one of
the key areas of the National Memorials Ordinance 1928 requiring reform.
As noted in the previous chapter, there is a widespread view that as currently
constituted the CNMC cannot effectively carry out its responsibilities.
A number of schemes for changing the membership of the CNMC have been
suggested in the evidence placed before the JSCNCET. There has been a focus on
three main issues (which are not mutually exclusive):
n Increasing the
effective presence of parliamentary representation
n Increasing the
presence of people with history/heritage expertise
n Providing for ACT representation.
There is a consensus that parliamentary representation is important and
that the ACT community should be represented on the CNMC in some way. Opinion
is divided on the presence on the CNMC of expert opinion, whether there should
be history/heritage experts or persons representing particular sections of the
community (such as the military or veterans), or whether such advice is best
In its submission, the Department of Regional Australia supported the
current membership of the Committee as provided by the Ordinance, stating that
the ‘bipartisan Committee, with senior Parliamentarians, appropriately reflects
the national significance of national memorials’.
The submission recommended filling all positions on the CNMC as soon as
possible, suggesting a range of possible ways to fill the positions currently
reserved for ACT residents, including:
n Open selection based
on written applications
n Nomination by the ACT
n Nomination of two
Members of the ACT Legislative Assembly
n Appointment of two
federal MHRs or Senators representing the ACT
n A combination of the
The Department’s submission acknowledged the difficulties involved in
senior parliamentarians attending CNMC meetings. It addressed the issue of
non-participation of senior parliamentarians and officials by recommending a
system of delegation:
The Department supports enabling Committee members to
delegate their functions, including their voting rights…allowing Committee members
to delegate their responsibilities would enable the Committee to meet
face-to-face regularly and enable senior Parliamentarians to continue to
contribute to the decision making process via their nominated delegate.
Delegations would be limited:
For example, ministers and shadow ministers may only delegate
to other members of parliament or senators, and the Secretary of the Department
may only delegate to a senior executive colleague.
An alternative proposal would be to specify ‘certain Parliamentary Secretaries
and Shadow Parliamentary Secretaries as Committee members’, or to have members
of the JSCNCET appointed to the CNMC while maintaining its bipartisan
As Chair of the Committee, the Prime Minister, rather than the Secretary
of the Department, would be responsible for summoning meetings; and the
responsible Minister would also have the role of Deputy Chair of the CNMC, with
the power, if required, to summon meetings.
Expert advice would come through the NCA, as the ‘expert advisor’, and
from external advice sought as required.
In its submission, the NCA also emphasised the importance of high level
political leadership on the CNMC. The submission stated:
The Prime Minister, the responsible Minister, the Leader of
the Opposition in the House of Representatives and the Leaders of the
Government and Opposition in the Senate should all retain their places as
members of the CNMC. The NCA also suggests the Secretary of the department with
broad responsibility for the territories, currently the Department of Regional
Australia, Regional Development and Local Government retain membership of the
The NCA suggested replacing the ACT members of the CNMC with a local MHR
or Senator and a nominee of the ACT Government. It also suggested the appointment
of the Chair of the JSCNCET and a representative of the NCA to the CNMC. This
would combine effective parliamentary representation with planning expertise.
Independent expert advice could be sought as required.
These minimalist approaches to changing the membership of the CNMC do
not take into account the frustration felt by other groups with the current
arrangements, and particularly with the role of the NCA. In their submissions,
the Walter Burley Griffin Society and the Lake War Memorials Forum documented recent
failures in memorial planning processes, which they attributed to a lack of
checks and balances on the role of the NCA; and the failure of the
parliamentary members of the CNMC to play an effective role in the Committee’s
deliberations, effectively abdicating responsibility for decision making to the
Minister and officials.
In its submission, the Canberra chapter of the Walter Burley Griffin
Society proposed a substantial change in the membership of the CNMC to reflect
the reality that senior parliamentarians would have little time to attend to
the work of the Committee, and that both local representation and expert knowledge
were essential to the work of the CNMC. The Society suggested the following
membership structure for the CNMC:
n The Minister
responsible for the Australian Capital Territory
n Three Members of the
House of Representatives
n Three Senators
n One or two residents
of the ACT
n One or two recognised
authorities in Australian history from outside the ACT.
In a separate submission, the Sydney-based Management Committee of the
Walter Burley Griffin Society acknowledged the symbolic importance of the
membership of the CNMC as originally conceived in the Ordinance. It also
acknowledged that in recent years the CNMC had not functioned as intended. The
submission argued that ‘ideally the CNMC should retain its political membership
as established in 1928’, but that ‘as a return to these 1928 political
arrangements appears unrealistic’ the membership recommended by the Society’s
Canberra chapter was the best way forward. In both cases, the role
of the NCA was limited to providing advice to the CNMC and proponents ‘in
strict accordance with the Guidelines for Commemorative Works in the
National Capital and a Memorandum of Understanding with the proponent,
posted as a public document.’
In its submission, the Lake War Memorials Forum proposed three options for
the make-up of the CNMC designed to achieve a membership ‘which is
representative, interested, has access to expertise, and has time to devote to
its business’ and which ‘should not be subject to capture by a single
Option A would provide a CNMC with a membership of five (quorum of four)
n The Minister (Chair
of CNMC; departmental secretary as proxy)
n Chair of JSCNCET
(Deputy Chair of CNMC)
n Another member of
JSCNCET (elected by JSCNCET)
n Two ACT residents
(one nominated by the minister, one by the JSCNCET).
The focus in Option A is upon representativeness and political and
community interest, with expertise drawn from outside. The JSCNCET would
recommend that, if this option were adopted, the other member of the JSCNCET
appointed to the CNMC be the Deputy Chair of the JSCNCET. This would ensure
Option B would provide the CNMC with a membership of five (quorum of
four) consisting of:
n The Chair of the
Australian Council of National Trusts
n The President of the
Planning Institute of Australia
n A representative of
the Walter Burley Griffin Society
n Two ACT residents
(nominated by the community).
Option B focuses on expert knowledge and demonstrated interest in
planning and heritage issues at the expense of political representation (which
is currently often absent anyway).
Option C would provide a CNMC with a membership of six or seven (quorum
of four) consisting of:
n The Minister (Chair
of CNMC; departmental secretary as proxy)
n Chair of JSCNCET
(Deputy Chair of CNMC)
n Another member of
JSCNCET (elected by JSCNCET)
n Two ACT residents
(one nominated by the Minister, one by the JSCNCET)
n Up to two temporary
members with appropriate expertise, appointed by the Minister, for each
Option C combines the strengths of Options A and B in a slightly larger
A number of submissions called for CNMC membership which included
expertise in history and heritage matters and/or expertise in aesthetics,
design and planning. The National Gallery of
Australia suggested that the deliberations of the CNMC would be ‘enhanced if
there was an opportunity for a suitably qualified person to comment on the
merits of proposals from an aesthetic perspective’.
The RSL called for the appointment of representatives of both current service
personnel and veterans (not to the exclusion of other sectors of the community)
to ensure that both could have input into memorials, particularly those
associated with military service and service in war, a call echoed in the
submission from the proponents of the Australian Peacekeeping Memorial Project.
In the Committee’s view there are five major issues surrounding the membership
of the CNMC:
n The seniority of the
parliamentary members of the Committee
n Membership with
relevant experience and expertise
n Representation of the
n Quorum requirements
n The role of the NCA.
Traditionally, the status of the senior parliamentarians was seen as
giving the CNMC a weight and national perspective fitting for something of such
lasting national significance as National Memorials. As a matter of principle,
this is a very attractive concept. However, as the senior parliamentarians appointed
to the CNMC have not always been able to fulfil their role, much of the
decision making has been left to officials. Whatever one may think of the
results, this outcome is clearly the opposite of what was originally intended
under the Ordinance.
In this regard, one option would be to follow the compromise solution
suggested by the Department of Regional Australia. Keeping the senior
parliamentarians on the CNMC, but allowing them to delegate their
responsibilities to other parliamentarians would allow some balance between
maintaining the status of the CNMC while ensuring that the parliamentary
members of the Committee are effectively engaged in its work. These delegates could
be officially appointed to the CNMC with fixed terms of three years or until
they cease to be hold a seat in Parliament (whichever occurs first).
Yet there are other options for improving the level of parliamentary
input into, and oversight of the, memorials approval process. The Washington
model (see Chapter 4) gives direct congressional input in the first stage of a
memorial’s development by requiring the passing of legislation; and high level
input from the Government and Congress, through the various Commissions
associated with the process, through the remaining stages. Another option,
raised in the evident presented during the inquiry, is for the direct
involvement of the JSCNCET in the approvals process. This would also ensure
direct parliamentary involvement and ensure a high level of bi-partisanship.
The bi-partisan nature of the CNMC is vital to its function. The JSCNCET
believes that if the Ordinance is to be retained it should always reflect this
bi-partisan principle, either explicitly in the appointments (naming of office
holders) made under the Ordinance or in a statement of principle within the Ordinance.
The JSCNCET is also of the view that experts in history and heritage
have an important place in the approvals process. As originally conceived, the
CNMC had two such members. The presence of acknowledged national authorities
could only improve the deliberations of the CNMC, giving a deeper perspective
on the national and historical significance of any given National Memorial and
its place within the history and landscape of the National Capital. Such
members would also add weight or balance to advice from other sources. If the
CNMC is to be retained, the JSCNCET would suggest the appointment of two
nationally recognised authorities in the field of Australian history, with a
view to seeking independent advice and public input from other sources as
Another option is suggested by the Washington model—the creation of an
advisory committee made up of experts in the field of history, heritage and
culture, who could provide expert advice to Parliament and the National Capital
Authority on a range of issues surrounding any given proposal. This option will
be further explored below.
The JSCNCET also believes that some level of representation for the ACT
community is essential to any approvals process given the proximity of ACT
residents to the outcome. Whether the Ordinance is to be retained or ultimately
scrapped, the JSCNCET recommends the immediate appointment of two ACT residents,
as currently required under the Ordinance, to give voice to the local
community. These residents should be people with knowledge of heritage matters.
The Committee recommends the appointment of one ACT resident by the responsible
Minister and, in order to allow the ACT Government some input, the nomination
of a member of the ACT Heritage Council by the Chief Minister.
To provide security of tenure and thus ensure robust discussion of
issues within the CNMC, the two expert members and the two ACT residents should
be appointed for a fixed term of three years. The terms of the two expert
members and the ACT members of the CNMC should be staggered to achieve
The role of the NCA in the memorials approval process will be vital,
however that process is constructed. The JSCNCET notes that an essential
difference between Canberra and Washington is that the NCA effectively performs
all the functions of a diverse range of institutions under the Washington model
(see Chapter 4). This places a great deal of responsibility upon the NCA; and
upon other elements of any approvals process, particularly on parliamentary
oversight. Striking a balance in the NCA’s role as advisor, regulator and
(effectively) proponent is essential to any approvals process.
Other aspects of the NCA’s role will be discussed below, and its role in
the JSCNCET’s preferred model for memorials approvals will be explored in Chapter
4, but the JSCNCET is of the view that if the CNMC is to be retained, the NCA should
become an ‘expert advisor’ to the CNMC, without voting rights. This would
strike an effective balance between the role of the NCA as a proponent and
regulator of National Memorials and the need for the CNMC to seek input from
the NCA in its deliberations.
The JSCNCET notes that the two other official positions on the CNMC are
anomalous, historical anachronisms based on changes to the membership of the
CNMC in its early days. The JSCNCET supports the Secretary of the Department
retaining a role in the deliberations of the CNMC, but only as an expert
advisor and without voting rights. If the CNMC is to be retained, the position
of ‘an officer appointed by the Minister’ should be abolished.
The JSCNCET would also support the responsible minister in the role of
Deputy Chair of the CNMC, with coordinate powers to the Chair, believing this would
provide robust and flexible leadership for the CNMC.
If the Ordinance is retained, these proposals would give the CNMC the
n The Prime Minister
(CNMC Chair; position delegated to another MHR)
n The Minister (Deputy
Chair; currently the Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and
n The Leader of the
Government in the Senate (position delegated to another Senator)
n The Leader of the
Opposition in the Senate (position delegated to another Senator)
n The Leader of the
Opposition in the House of Representatives (position delegated to another MHR)
n Two members to be
appointed by the responsible Minister for a term of three years from amongst
persons who are recognized as authorities on Australian history
n Two other members to
be appointed from amongst persons who are residents of the Australian Capital
Territory, with acknowledged expertise in heritage matters, to be appointed by the responsible Minister for a term of three years, one
to be a member of the ACT Heritage Council nominated by the ACT Chief Minister.
This Committee would be able to draw upon external expertise in social,
cultural and military history, and advice from the services and veterans
organisations, as outlined in paragraphs 3.124–3.126.
Expert advisers, without voting rights, would be:
n The Secretary of the
Department (currently the Secretary of the Department of Regional Australia,
Regional Development and Local Government; position delegated to another senior
officer of the department)
n The Chief Executive
of the National Capital Authority (position delegated to another senior officer
of the NCA)
To ensure the effective working of the CNMC, effective parliamentary
representation, and public confidence in its decisions, the quorum of the CNMC
should be five, with a requirement that parliamentary members always make at
least half the quorum. This sets a high standard, but the significance and
long-lasting impact of National Memorials demands nothing less.
||The JSCNCET recommends to the Minister for Regional
Australia, Regional Development and Local Government that, while new systems
are put in place, residents of the Australian Capital Territory be immediately
appointed to the Canberra National Memorials Committee, as required under the National Memorials Ordinance 1928; and that these persons have
acknowledged expertise in heritage matters, with one to be a member of the
ACT Heritage Council nominated by the ACT Chief Minister.
The decision-making processes of the CNMC have been identified as a
critical area for reform.
In its submission, the Department of Regional Australia proposes greater
flexibility in the working arrangements for meetings of the CNMC. Currently,
the CNMC is required to make decisions face-to-face. The Department supports
using new technologies such as telephone and video conference, and the CNMC
making resolutions by correspondence.
The Walter Burley Griffin Society opposes decision making ‘on the
papers, out of session’. The Society is concerned that this will dilute the
involvement of parliamentary members of the CNMC and leave CNMC decision-making
vulnerable to bureaucratic capture.
The Department also supports amending quorum requirements to require a
minimum number of parliamentarians to be present. Currently the quorum is
three, with decisions requiring a simple majority of those present. As the
It is currently possible under the Ordinance for the
Committee to meet and make decisions with no Parliamentarians present. This is
inconsistent with the senior and representative nature of the Committee’s
Such a proposal is also in keeping with other submissions to the
inquiry, which recommend a more robust quorum and stronger parliamentary
representation. The JSCNCET has already
dealt with this issue (see above).
Until 2008, the vital role of secretariat to the CNMC was undertaken by
the National Capital Authority. From 2008 to mid-2011, the secretariat was
provided by the relevant government department (Attorney-General’s, then
Department of Regional Australia), during which the NCA had no official role on
the CNMC. In mid-2011, the secretariat function was returned to the NCA.
A number of submitters and witnesses have argued against the secretariat
function being returned to the NCA.
In its submission, the Canberra chapter of the Walter Burley Griffin
Society argued that giving the secretariat role to the NCA was inappropriate
given its role in the planning and approvals process—there was too much scope
for conflicts of interest:
Recommendation 3 is that the Secretariat of the
CNMC should be placed with the Department of the Minister responsible for the
ACT. The NCA has too many conflicts of interest and there are no checks and
balances in the governmental structure to control these conflicts. The NCA
should not be, as at present, initiator or partner of project proposals,
objective assessor and eventual approval body.
In its submission, the Lake War Memorials Forum also argued that the
‘secretariat function for the CNMC should reside in the responsible Department,
not in the NCA, as should the function of calling meetings of the CNMC’.
The Forum stated:
The NCA should be seen as an “institutionalised expert” and
the potential manager of National Memorials and thus as having a conflict of
interest in relation to decisions on them. It cannot successfully, or even
ethically, play, simultaneously or successively, the roles of project initiator
or partner, objective assessor, decision-maker and final custodian.
The NCA, if it were to be secretariat to the CNMC, would be
the “gatekeeper” of the CNMC’s business, giving the NCA a potentially powerful
In evidence before the Committee, the Department of Regional Australia
argued that it believed the NCA was the most appropriate body to provide the
secretariat function to the CNMC, given the NCA’s experience in the role and
expertise in planning matters.
Planning and Guidelines
The lack of mandatory guidelines or detailed plans for National
Memorials is widely perceived as one of the weaknesses in the decision making
process. The need for a more rigorous approach to planning and guidelines has
been identified as an important reform.
In his submission, Air Marshal David Evans, a former Chairman of the
NCA, noted that the current Guidelines for Commemorative Works in the
National Capital had been ignored in the approvals for the proposed World
War I and II Memorials, and called for those guidelines to be made mandatory.
Legally they are only guidelines. This of course is
unsatisfactory. The idea that the Authority might ignore them was simply not
anticipated. In retrospect, once accepted by the Authority the protocols should
have been put to the Canberra National Memorials Committee for ratification and
then included in the National Capital Plan. This should now be put in place. 
In its submission, the Lake War Memorials Forum argued strongly for the
creation of a Strategy for National Memorials, drawing upon the current
Guidelines for Commemorative Works in the National Capital, which would be
incorporated into the ordinance and provide binding criteria for a range
of issues, including:
n aspects of Australian
history and culture needing celebration, including what Australians want to
commemorate and how commemoration can shape our view of ourselves and others’
views of us;
n criteria defining a
National Memorial, including the possibility of non-tangible memorials, such as
scholarships, funds and other forms of commemoration not involving “bricks and
n consideration of
whether proposed National Memorials will duplicate other memorials around
n planning aspects,
including absorption capacity of central Canberra for memorials and
commemorative structures, alternative sites outside central Canberra;
n protocols for dealing
with memorials donated by other countries;
n circumstances under
which privately proposed memorials are acceptable (including narrow guidelines
for commercial confidentiality);
n funding arrangements
for privately proposed memorials; and
n timing disciplines on
In its submission, the National Capital Authority also proposed a
significant strengthening of decision making processes, including:
n Reviewing the
existing Guidelines for Commemorative Works in the National Capital, and
submitting them for consideration by the CNMC
n Formalising the
guidelines within a regulatory instrument
n Clarifying and
documenting the relationship between works approval under the PALM Act and
assessment under the EPBC Act and CNMC approvals, including moving works
approvals and EPBC Act assessments forward
n Creating a National
Memorials Master Plan, as part of the legislative instrument, providing
stronger assessment criteria and more detailed siting options.
Part of this process is actually defining the term ‘National Memorial’.
In its submission, the Department of Regional Australia stated:
Defining ‘national memorial’ in guidelines that support
Committee [CNMC] decision making would reduce confusion about what proposals
can properly be considered by the Committee as national memorials.
In its submission, the National Capital Authority defines National
Memorials as ‘structures located on National Land that commemorate loss of life
and personal sacrifice’.
The NCA also argues for National Monuments to be included under the
National Memorials Ordinance. National Monuments are defined as ‘physical
structures that celebrate achievements of the Nation and/or Australians’. 
National Monuments are not currently covered by the Ordinance and therefore are
not subject to scrutiny by the CNMC. National Monuments include the Centenary
of Women’s Suffrage and Magna Carta Place.
The Draft Memorials Policy of the ACT Government also provides a
definition of memorials:
An object established in memory of a person, organisation or
an event. A memorial object may be a sculptural or other artistic work,
fountain, seat or park bench, drinking fountain, or horticultural features such
as a tree.
For Washington DC, the Commemorative Works Act defines the term
‘commemorative work’ as :
Any statue, monument, sculpture, memorial, plaque,
inscription, or other structure or landscape feature, including a garden or
memorial grove, designed to perpetuate in a permanent manner the memory of an
individual, group, event or other significant element of American history,
except that the term does not include any such item which is located within the
interior of a structure or a structure which is primarily used for other
Finally, a key element of the decision-making process is transparency.
Lack of transparency in decision making has been one of the main criticisms
directed at the CNMC.
In its submission, the Department of Regional Australia recommends
improving the transparency of the decision-making processes of the CNMC by
setting out the decision making process in publicly available guidelines and
releasing records of Committee proceedings and decisions.
In its submission, the NCA has stated that:
While it is proper for the Australian Parliament, through the
CNMC, to have sole responsibility for determining the commemorative purpose of
a proposed National Memorial, there is an opportunity to increase community
confidence in the decisions of the CNMC by improving transparency around its
Possible ways of increasing transparency include:
n A public register of
memorial proposals, including current status in the approvals process, the
register to be published on a website maintained by the secretariat.
n Creation of a
National Memorials Master Plan as an appendix to the National Capital Plan.
This would build on the existing Guidelines.
n Publication of the
agenda and proceedings of CNMC meetings.
The JSCNCET believes that the ultimate goal of its review of the
Ordinance should be a more robust and transparent approvals process for
National Memorials. To this end, the Committee has recommended a new model for
the approval of National Memorials. To retain the Ordinance is to risk a
process which is overly cumbersome or insufficiently transparent and robust, as
new provisions are bolted onto old in an attempt to save an Ordinance that is
arguably long past its time.
Nonetheless, the JSCNCET offers the following views as to possible
reform of the current process, drawing on the evidence presented to the
The JSCNCET acknowledges the arguments supporting a more flexible
approach to the deliberations of the CNMC, but is mindful that there is
currently a strong public perception that flexibility equates to inadequate
consideration of important issues. To restore public confidence in CNMC
decision making, the process must be robust and transparent. Quorum
requirements must ensure the attendance of at least half the CNMC and the
participation of senior parliamentary members or their delegates, as discussed earlier.
The proposed system of delegation should ensure sufficient flexibility in this
The JSCNCET also supports the use of telephone and video conferencing to
allow individual CNMC members to participate in meetings remotely, but opposes
decisions made ‘on the papers’. Again, this will ensure the full and public
participation of CNMC members in the work of the Committee.
With regard to the secretariat role, the JSCNCET is mindful of the
criticism directed at the NCA for its role in the decision-making process of
the CNMC in recent years. However, the JSCNCET agrees with the Department of
Regional Australia that, given the NCA’s acknowledged expertise in planning
matters, its experience in managing memorials projects, its statutory role in
the management of the National Capital, and reforms to the NCA’s own public
consultation processes, the NCA is the best location for the CNMC secretariat.
This view is contingent, however, on the NCA not being a member of the CNMC,
having instead the role of expert adviser, and publicly disclosing its interest
in each memorial proposal. It is also contingent upon the NCA demonstrating
that it is capable of fulfilling its role in an open and transparent approvals
process. Should the proposed changes be adopted, the position should be
reviewed after three years of operation.
The need for more robust planning and guidelines is another salient
point brought out in the evidence before the JSCNCET. Moreover, these
observations are relevant regardless of whether the Ordinance is reformed or
replaced. The Committee is conscious of the Washington model (see Chapter 4),
with the strong guidelines set out in the Commemorative Works Act 1986,
the clear definition of ‘commemorative works’, the planning framework
established by the Museums and Memorials Master Plan, and the mapping of
memorials that has been undertaken. All this allows for clarity in the decision
making process, and greater transparency from the public point of view.
The JSCNCET therefore supports including the Guidelines for
Commemorative Works in the National Capital as an Appendix to the National
Capital Plan, thus giving them legal force, and renaming them as Criteria
for Commemorative Works in the National Capital to reflect this legal
status; the creation of a Memorials Master Plan, including the mapping of
existing memorials and potential sites, to provide a detailed picture for
decision-makers on what has been done and what can be done in the future;
including a definition of ‘memorials’ or ‘commemorative works’ in the National
Memorials Ordinance, based on that contained in the Commemorative Works Act;
and, given the fundamental similarity in their nature and significance,
including National Monuments within the scope of the National Memorials
Ordinance. The JSCNCET notes that the definitions applied by the US or ACT
Governments to memorials or commemorative works effectively encompasses
monuments and memorials as defined by the NCA.
The JSCNCET is also of the view that the existing Guidelines for
Commemorative Works in the National Capital should be revised in light of
the recommendations in this report, and that the revised Criteria should be
presented to the CNMC for approval.
The JSCNCET is also of the view that the Ordinance
should exclude minor installations, such as plaques or individual trees,
outside the Parliamentary Zone.
The JSCNCET is also strongly of the view that improving the transparency
of the memorials approvals process is vital, regardless of whether the
Ordinance is reformed or replaced. There should be a separate website where
documentation regarding processes and decisions and memorial proposals are made
publicly available. All decisions should be made according to publicly
available guidelines which, if it is retained, should form a schedule to the
If the CNMC is retained, there should be a publicly available register
of memorial proposals, including current status of each proposal, maintained by
the secretariat and published on its website.
The agenda and proceedings of all CNMC meetings should be made publicly
available and published on its website.
Decisions of the CNMC about each proposal should be made publicly
available, and published on the CNMC website, together with reasons for
approval, disallowance or amendment.
Supporting documentation, including independent expert advice, public
submissions and reports of public consultations should be made publicly
available and published on the CNMC website.
Maintenance of the CNMC website should be the responsibility of the
Alternatively, if the CNMC is abolished, the NCA should still be
responsible for making publicly available all documentation relating to the
process, including a register of proposals (see Chapter 4).
The decision-making structure is as important as the process, and is
also clearly in need of reform. Much of the following discussion is pertinent
whether the Ordinance is reformed or replaced.
In its submission, the Department of Regional Australia has recommended
establishing a two stage approvals process, allowing greater flexibility in
meeting procedures, and strengthening administrative processes.
The two stage approvals process would involve a ‘two-pass’ assessment.
In the first-pass assessment, the CNMC would consider the ‘commemorative
intent’ of a proposed National Memorial, including its national significance
and whether it meets the criteria specified in the guidelines for commemorative
The memorial proponent would then be required to prepare a more detailed
proposal, undertaking mandatory public consultation, and environmental and
heritage assessments, seeking planning advice and, if required, advice from the
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Following this, the Committee would undertake its second-pass
assessment, considering the location and character of a proposed national
Having passed through the CNMC, memorial proposals would be subject to
ministerial determinations under the Ordinance. Proponents would be responsible
for delivery within the parameters agreed by the CNMC.
In its submission, the Department highlighted the advantages of this
The proposed ‘two-pass’ decision making process would ensure
the Committee [CNMC] is provided with comprehensive proposals before
ministerial determinations are made reserving sites for proposed national
memorials. The ‘two-pass’ process could require national memorial proponents
who have been granted first-pass approval to work closely with the NCA to
develop a design competition brief, run a public design competition, identify
possible locations, consult with ACT residents and arrange for an Environment
Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) assessment to
take place before the proposal moves to the second-stage assessment.
In its submission, the Walter Burley Griffin Society proposed a ten step
(1) Project Initiation;
(2) Determination of National Memorial Status and
Commemorative Intent with respect to the Mandatory Criteria and Evaluation
Criteria of the policy document, Guidelines
for Commemorative Works in the National Capital;
(3) Nomination of Alternative Sites;
(4) Site Selection;
(5) Approval of Budget and Business Plan for Construction,
Maintenance and associated Infrastructure costs;
(6) Selection of a Memorial Design through an open
(7) Validation of the selected Memorial Design against
Commemorative Intent, Budget, Business Plan and Infrastructure costs;
(8) Approval of the Memorial Design in accordance with the
National Capital Plan;
(9) Certification of Construction Documentation;
(10) Monitoring of the Commemorative Role and Maintenance of
the Memorial against the Commemorative Intent.
The JSCNCET supports a two stage approvals process for National
Memorials, the first pass assessment focusing on commemorative intent,
including its national significance and whether it meets the criteria specified
in the Guidelines, and its financial viability. A basic financial model, identifying
sources of funding, should be developed at this stage.
As already stated, with a view to ensuring that these Guidelines are
applied consistently, the JSCNCET is of the opinion that the Guidelines should
be given legal status. The JSCNCET is also of the view that the steps outlined
in the submission of the Walter Burley Griffin Society would fit neatly into
the two pass process.
Following this first pass assessment, the memorial proponent would
undertake to develop a design competition brief (if necessary), run a public
design competition (if necessary), and undertake detailed development of the
proposal, including working with the NCA to:
n Identify possible
n Conduct mandatory
n Seek planning advice
from relevant authorities and, if required, advice from relevant government
n Have assessments made
under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999
n Develop draft
conservation management plans and/or heritage impact statements for proposed sites,
if required (see below)
n Develop the budget
and business plan for funding construction, maintenance and associated
The second pass assessment would focus on the location and character of
the proposed National Memorial.
If the CNMC is retained, the proposal would then be subject to works
approval by the NCA and a Ministerial determination subject to disallowance
At the first pass, the CNMC would publicise the proposal and seek public
comment. It would also be required to seek independent expert advice. Both
would be incorporated into the CNMC assessment of the commemorative intent of
the proposed National Memorial.
At the second pass, the CNMC would again publicise the proposal and seek
public comment. It would also be required to seek independent expert advice.
Both would be incorporated into the CNMC assessment of the character and
location of the proposed National Memorial.
If the Ordinance is replaced, then a similar process would occur, under
the auspices of the JSCNCET and the NCA, as detailed in Chapter 4.
An important part of the decision making process and structure is the
management of heritage issues. This has been one of the main concerns brought
up in evidence surrounding the conception, character and location of memorials.
Inevitably, in the National Capital, any new memorial will be inserted into a
location with existing heritage values. The ability to identify and address
these values effectively under existing approvals processes for National
Memorials appears to be limited to assessments under the Environment
Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), which
currently occurs after CNMC approval.
In its submission, the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water,
Population and Communities recommended giving explicit reference in the
ordinance to the possible need for approvals to be obtained under the EPBC Act.
In evidence, the Department also suggested the potential benefits of moving the
EPBC Act assessment process to an earlier stage in the overall approvals
process for National Memorials, in effect giving the CNMC final approval for
all National Memorials.
In its submission, the Australian Heritage Council recommended that ‘the
Ordinance should take into account any necessary statutory compliance
processes’. It also suggested that ‘it would be prudent to incorporate early
consideration of potential impacts on places listed on the National Heritage
List or Commonwealth Heritage List’. The Department of Regional
Australia also recommended this as part of the development of memorial
proposals after the first pass and in preparation for the second pass.
In evidence before the Committee, Dr Dianne Firth, Acting Chair of the
ACT Heritage Council noted that under ACT Government’s memorials policy, a
memorial proposals ‘triggered immediately to the heritage unit and to council’
for heritage assessment. She noted that while a Heritage Management Plan was in
place for the Parliament House Vista, this did not necessarily capture in fine
detail the possible impacts of a particular proposal in a particular location.
She told the Committee:
This parliament house vista conservation management plan
picks up the real significance of the axis. It picks up the importance of Commonwealth
Park and Kings Park but it does not in fine detail pick up Rond Terraces. When
it goes through it, it gives lists of compatible uses for these areas. It is
generally a good document to give direction. For instance, if a proponent came
with an idea that they wanted to have a specific memorial for World War I and
World War II and the National Capital Authority offered them some sites, what
should then come is a finer grain understanding of the significance of that
localised space and how you can then develop an architectural brief.
Dr Firth emphasised that when it came to assessing the importance of
heritage values, ‘when you come to a specific site there has to be a judgement
applied to that specific site, so the values and how they are expressed through
that site might take a different hierarchy’.
In its submission, the ACT Heritage Council argued that all memorial
proposals should be subject to heritage impact assessments, and that such
assessments should receive input from the Australian Heritage Council, and be
released for public comment. The ACT Heritage Council was concerned that a
conservation management plan (CMP) had not been prepared ‘for such an important
place as the Rond Terraces and endorsed by the Australian Heritage Council’,
and that a heritage impact assessment had not been prepared ‘which addresses
the impact of the proposed memorials on the significance established by a CMP’.
In her submission, Ms Rosemarie Willet of the Walter Burley Griffin
Society, made similar points about the need for heritage assessment for each
proposal to be made earlier in the process than is currently the case, and at a
local scale. She stated:
National memorials are obviously intended for future
generations as well as present Australians and overseas visitors. Whether or
not they are listed in Heritage Registers, they are heritage places. It remains
therefore to refer briefly to Reference Documents used in heritage practice,
under specific heritage legislation and which can be requested under the EPBC Act.
Such Reference Documents are the Conservation Management Plan (CMP) and the
Heritage Impact Statement (HIS) which may warrant the input of a range of
The CMP provides a full assessment of the place and, based on
this assessment, ascribes the Statement of Significance; it is often the case
that even when a CMP is done for a precinct, special places within the precinct
merit their own CMP. The CMP can recommend opportunities for future directions
and the consideration of options.
Speaking before the Committee, Ms Willett highlighted the problems that
could occur if heritage management were not undertaken with sufficient
thoroughness early in the approvals process, citing the example of the World
War I and II Memorials on the Rond Terraces:
The EPBC Act often requires a heritage impact statement and
there should be a conservation management plan made prior to a heritage impact
statement so that the proposal can be discussed against the assessment, the
significance that is ascribed from that assessment to a place, and can be
assessed against opportunities, different recommendations that could be made in
a conservation management plan. You will have noticed that I say that this
should have happened to such an important place as the Rond Terraces, which is
on the lake shore and which is on the land axis. Had a CMP been made for this
place, I am sure that a lot of issues would have come forward to show that this
place is very important in the conservation of Griffin’s land axis, because the
land axis is in fact an alignment. It is an alignment of natural monuments in
our local landscape, and Mount Ainslie sets the definition of that land axis,
which the NCDC took up using the width set by Griffin in his apices for the
portal buildings and continuing across the lake for those government buildings
that give you a full, uninterrupted vista of Parliament House. That would have
come out in a conservation management plan, and then it would be seen that the
war memorials on the Rond Terrace pinch that vista; they are closer in. In
fact, they distract you from the full conical form of Mount Ainslie. In fact,
they provide a central faux pas.
The JSCNCET notes that, in the case of the World War I and II Memorials,
perceived failures in heritage management were one of the central concerns
raised by the community. It would appear that this is a case where a more
thoroughgoing heritage assessment, based on detailed conservation management
plans and heritage impact statements, would have alerted regulators to the
significant heritage issues surrounding the proposed memorials before
final approval was given by the CNMC. Given that heritage values are an
inherent part of the landscape of Canberra, and certainly in the national areas
where National Memorials are likely to be located, detailed heritage management
planning should be an essential part of any proposal before it achieves
final approval, regardless of the process followed. Given that the JSCNCET has
already advocated the creation of a two pass assessment process, the Committee
recommends that, as part of each memorial proposal, individual heritage
assessments automatically be required as part of the approvals process, before
second pass assessment, including
where necessary the creation of site specific Conservation Management Plans and
Heritage Impact Statements. Such provisions should be included in the
Ordinance, if it is retained, or form part of the decision-making process
outlined in Chapter 4 if the Ordinance is replaced.
||The JSCNCET recommends that, as part of the decision-making
process for National Memorials, each proposal for a National Memorial be
required to undergo heritage assessment, prior to final approval, including
the creation of site specific Conservation Management Plans and Heritage
CNMC and independent expert advice
The need to access independent expert advice will vary to some degree
according to how the decision-making process for National Memorials is
constituted, and from project to project. Different forms of expert advice may
also be required for different facets of any given project. For example, in its
submission, the Management Committee of the Walter Burley Griffin Society
indicated that the focus of independent expert advice should be on the memorial
proponent’s budget and business plan.
In its submission, the Australian War Memorial recommended that, given
its military history expertise, it would be ‘sensible to seek not only the
Memorial’s advice when proposals are being considered, but also its views’,
when proposals for military memorials, especially along ANZAC Parade, were
The Canberra chapter of the Walter Burley Griffin Society highlighted
the strengths of the American model, with its multi-stage approvals process
with expert involvement at all stages:
Particularly significant is the institutional integration
with the US Commission of Fine Arts, the Architect of the Capitol and various
heritage and land management agencies with responsibilities in the central
symbolic areas of Washington. They represent routine sources of expertise.
The Society recommended that the ability of the CNMC to access
independent expert advice be incorporated into the Ordinance. The submission
also noted the desirability of creating an Office of Government Architect and a
reformed NCA with enhanced planning, engineering and heritage expertise.
The Ordinance is currently silent on the question of external advice to
the CNMC, neither requiring it nor preventing it. Whether and how such advice
is obtained is entirely at the discretion of the Committee.
In recent years, the NCA has been the principal source of expert advice
to the CNMC on the location and character of proposed memorials, ‘whether as a
full member (up to 2008) or an invited adviser (2008-present)’.
In its submission, the NCA supported the CNMC seeking independent expert
advice. The NCA noted that it ‘is not, and does not claim to be, expert on all
commemorative intents relevant to Memorials’, and that ‘there may be proposals
from time-to-time where it will not be possible for the NCA (even with its
expertise) to give definitive advice on a matter’.
The NCA recommended allowing the Chair of the CNMC to instruct the
secretariat (the NCA) to obtain advice on any subject matter necessary for a
decision to be made on a proposal, and that the Ordinance be amended to reflect
In its submission, the Department of Regional Australia supported the
CNMC seeking independent expert advice ‘when appropriate’. The Department
n Establishing decision
making guidelines that recognise independent expert advice should be sought by
the CNMC as required; and
n Clarifying the role
of the NCA in advising the Committee and appointing a representative from the
NCA as an ‘expert advisor’ to the Committee.
On the role of the NCA, the Department stated:
The NCA has regularly been asked to provide expert advice to
the committee [CNMC]. Given the NCA’s statutory responsibility for the National
Capital Plan and its role in the development and maintenance of national
memorials, the NCA has provided the Committee with advice on the location and
design of proposed national memorials. The Department supports a representative
from the NCA being appointed as an ‘expert advisor’ to the Committee. However,
to ensure there are no actual; or perceived conflicts of interest between the
NCA’s role in advising the Committee and its planning approval role, the
‘expert advisor’ should not have voting rights. 
The JSCNCET notes that the question of the exercise of discretion in
seeking independent expert advice, or rather failing to seek it, combined with
the significant role the NCA has played in recent decisions, is one of the
reasons for the current inquiry. If the Ordinance is reformed, the JSCNCET
therefore supports the NCA being part of the CNMC in an expert advisory role,
one source of advice amongst many (see above).
The JSCNCET notes that the need for independent expert advice was
recognised in the original Ordinance, with its provision that two members of
the CNMC be ‘persons who are recognized as authorities on Australian history’.
The JSCNCET has recognised the importance of this and proposed the restoration
of this provision to the Ordinance (see above). However, the JSCNCET also
recognises that each memorial proposal will have its unique concept, qualities
and characteristics, and unique place within the Canberra landscape, all of
which will require input from people with specialised expertise.
Several options for utilizing external expert advice are available. The
widespread publication of the details of memorial proposals, combined with the
opportunity for people to make submissions on such proposals, will elicit
informed opinion. Moreover, those responsible for conducting the approvals
process could specifically seek advice from acknowledged experts in particular
fields and incorporate such advice into their deliberations. Certainly, the
expertise of our national cultural institutions should be availed of,
especially as it may often be the only expert advice readily available. The
JSCNCET would argue that not only could this be done, but that it should be
required in order to ensure that such advice is made available at the
A further possibility is the creation of a standing advisory committee,
made up of recognised experts in a range of disciplines, including history,
heritage, architecture and planning, representatives of veterans and the
services, and representatives of organisations with a strong focus on
Australian history and culture at a national level (such as the National
Gallery of Australia, National Library, National Museum, National Archives,
National Portrait Gallery, Museum of Australian Democracy, National Film and Sound
Archive, National Maritime Museum, High Court of Australia, Australian War
Memorial or the relevant Commonwealth Department). The role of this committee
would be to write advisory reports on each memorial proposal at each of the two
stages in its development, such reports to inform CNMC deliberations and to be
made publicly available. This committee could be called the ‘National Memorials
Advisory Committee’. Regardless of how the approvals process is structured, the
involvement of a standing advisory committee would prove useful and has been
incorporated into the recommendations of the JSCNCET in the following chapter.
In its submission, the Department of Regional Australia notes that there
is already some parliamentary oversight of proposed national memorials,
n JSCNCET oversight of
the administration of the Ordinance
n Appearance of
Departmental and NCA officers at Senate Estimates and other hearings as
n The involvement of
parliamentarians through the CNMC.
The Department has suggested that ‘the JSCNCET could provide further
Parliamentary oversight of national memorials by making recommendations to the
Committee on the “commemorative intent” of memorials’. 
The Department also noted that the ministerial determinations regarding
national memorials are not subject to tabling in Parliament or disallowance
(unlike ministerial determinations about the nomenclature of divisions in the
ACT). In the interests of consistency, the Department recommends that
‘ministerial determinations under the Ordinance should not be required to be
tabled as disallowable instruments’.
The JSCNCET notes that the Department’s submission actually highlights
the lack of any formal, and at times any, mechanisms for parliamentary
oversight of proposals for National Memorials.
The JSCNCET is of the view that while the recommended changes to the
Ordinance already cited will improve the transparency and accountability of the
CNMC, and the effectiveness of its parliamentary membership, additional layers
of parliamentary oversight are justified given recent controversies. The
preferred option of the JSCNCET is for the Committee to become the principal
instrument for parliamentary engagement in the approvals process for National
Memorials, as set out in Chapter 4. This will allow for a much more intimate
and effective level of parliamentary oversight of the approvals process.
On the other hand, if the Ordinance is to be retained, the JSCNCET would
suggest that, as the parliamentary committee directly responsible for matters
affecting the National Capital, it should be informed about and be able to
comment upon all proposals for new National Memorials. The JSCNCET therefore
would recommend that the CNMC provide it with regular reports of new memorial
proposals and updates on the status and progress of existing proposals, and
that the JSCNCET be formally briefed on all final determinations of the CNMC
with regard to National Memorial proposals.
Moreover, the JSCNCET believes that all ministerial determinations
regarding proposed National Memorials should be disallowable instruments, in
line with the current provisions of the Ordinance, and that such determinations
should not be laid before the Houses until after the JSCNCET has been formally
briefed regarding such determinations. Approvals for National Memorials are not
a matter for haste—careful deliberation is essential.
The lack of opportunity for public participation in the approvals
process for National Memorials is one of the critical shortcomings identified
in the National Memorials Ordinance 1928. Currently, there is no public
consultation regarding the location and character of proposed National
Memorials. There is public consultation under the EPBC Act with regard to
assessment of proposals, but these assessments are specific to the Act, and do not
address commemorative intent, location and design per se.
In its submission, the Department of Regional Australia noted that:
Any consultation process adopted by the Committee [CNMC]
should ensure that public consultation starts early in the development of a
proposed national memorial, captures a diversity of interested stakeholders and
provides stakeholders with sufficient time to respond to proposals.
The Department suggested that the CNMC adopt guidelines for a mandatory
national public consultation process, specifying the stages at which national
memorial proposals are subject to public consultation, including consultation
with the ACT community on matters of particular relevance to ACT residents, and
how such consultation will be advertised to make the public and stakeholders
aware of the process. The Department recommended that the NCA undertake
national consultation on proposed memorials.
In its submission, the National Capital Authority highlighted the need
to balance national and local interests in public participation. The NCA believes
that the elected representatives of the people in the Australian Parliament are
best placed to judge the national interest regarding the commemorative intent
of a memorial proposal, and has suggested three possible options:
n a direct motion in
the Houses of Parliament seeking support for, or approval of, a proposed
commemorative intent and new Memorial;
n referral of
commemorative intent to the JSCNCET for consideration prior to referral to the
n weighting the
membership of the CNMC in favour of Parliamentarians.
According to the NCA, once commemorative intent had been approved, the
community, and especially the local community, should be able to express views
on the location and character of proposed memorials before the CNMC reaches a
final decision.  The NCA would, as both
secretariat and the agency responsible for works approval, undertake
consultation with the community and incorporate an analysis of community views
in its advice to the CNMC prior to any decision about the location and/or
character of a memorial proposal. The NCA would publish details of this
consultation process in its Commitment to Community Engagement.
In its submission, the Lake War Memorials Forum called for ‘public
participation to be possible at every stage of decision-making’ and
‘recognition of the special need for public participation in relation to
decision-making on National Memorials, given the many facets of this work’,
such as the need for community understanding, reflection of community values
and the need to incorporate appropriate expertise.
In its submission, the Management Committee of the Walter Burley Griffin
Society argued that each stage of the approvals process should follow the
definition of ‘consultation’ in the NCA’s own consultation protocol, the Commitment
to Community Engagement, which expresses a commitment to:
n Inform the community
n Listen to the
community and stakeholders
n Consider submissions
n Provide feedback on
how submissions have contributed to decision-making.
The importance of meaningful public participation was emphasised in the
evidence presented to the JSCNCET by Professor Janette Hartz-Karp, an authority in
deliberative democracy from Curtin University. She noted the lack of
‘any clearly stated legislative or regulative format what one
is obliged to do or even the precision or the delegation that is involved in
terms of engaging the public. It would seem to me that one thing that could be
done is to state much more clearly the level of obligation in terms of public
participation, the legal commitment to do, so the bindingness of it, the level
of precision, how much ambiguity can they have to ignore this or to take it on,
and the level of delegation, what sort of authority would be granted to any
sort of third party arrangement to be able to do anything at all.
Professor Hartz-Karp highlighted the fact that all too often, public
consultation processes were just ‘tick-box’ exercises:
So the big challenge for you is how you would create it, or
how you could create the situation where we get innovation and we have what I
began to call ‘authentic deliberation’ or ‘authentic public deliberation’,
where people really understand that there are real options, that their
collective intelligence is really needed in order to help government or any governing
organisation to determine what the best option might be, and that this is a
real civic opportunity to be able to do that.
Professor Hartz-Karp emphasised that an effective process must be
representative, deliberative and have influence over outcomes.
With regard to the memorials approval process, she proposed an overseeing
committee, which would determine the need and extent for public consultation
with regard to each proposal:
One of the ways to do that, as I see it, that you may have is
to have some sort of overseeing committee. This is not an advisory committee in
the way that we currently know it but much more the notion of being an honest
broker in the process. What that overseeing committee would be doing, I would
think, would be to take a look at proposals that come forward, work out whether
or not this is a significantly large or small issue—in other words, is it
likely to have big or small impacts—and determine the extent of deliberation.
Public participation in the processes of approving National Memorials is
critical to successful outcomes. National Memorials are enduring national
symbols. They must reflect the views and aspirations of the Australian
community. The CNMC was originally formulated to give a national perspective
through the participation of senior parliamentarians, and this is certainly
important. But the views of ordinary citizens and those able to bring some
degree of relevant expertise are also vital to the process.
The JSCNCET is of the view that, at the bare minimum, public
participation should involve public access to information about memorial
proposals and deliberations upon these proposals (see the above section on Transparency).
But it should also involve direct input through the medium of submissions and
possibly public hearings at each of the two stages of the process outlined
above, dealing firstly with commemorative intent, and secondly with location
Given the probable role of the National Capital Authority in the
process, it would be helpful if its own Commitment to Community Engagement was extended to
the work of the memorials approvals, whether under the auspices of the CNMC or
under the JSCNCET’s preferred model.
||The JSCNCET recommends that the National Capital Authority’s Commitment to Community Engagement be applied to the decision-making
process for National Memorials, with the NCA to report publicly on the public
consultation process undertaken with regard to each National Memorial
Moreover, the JSCNCET is of the view that each proponent of a National
Memorial should be under an explicit obligation to organise and fund public
consultation processes, in conjunction with the National Capital Authority, as
part of its bid to design and construct a new National Memorial.
||The JSCNCET recommends that proponents of memorials provide
resources and funds to conduct public consultation processes as part of the
assessment and approval process for new National Memorials.
The JSCNCET is also attracted to the application of the concepts of
deliberative democracy to the public consultation process. While the Committee
would question whether an elaborate public consultation process would be
applicable to every proposal, the Committee endorses the principle of
deliberative democracy in the case of major proposals. The Committee believes consultation
and community involvement should reflect the values and commemorative needs of
the entire Australian community. The NCA’s Commitment to Community
Engagement could be modified to reflect the principles of deliberative
democracy, incorporating innovative and more representative forms of public
participation. The NCA would design, and publicly stating its reasons for, a
public consultation process at each stage of any given memorial proposal.
||The JSCNCET, recommends that the National Capital Authority
review its Commitment to Community Engagement to reflect the
principles of deliberative democracy, and that it design and report upon
public consultation processes for each National Memorial in accordance with
Other key issues
The JSCNCET is very interested in the way memorials are funded under the
Washington model. This requires that ongoing maintenance be paid for in the
first instance by proponents contributing ten per cent of construction costs
towards ongoing maintenance. As in Washington, completed memorials in Canberra
become the property and responsibility of the government, through the National
Capital Authority. In response to questions put by the Committee the NCA
The NCA would support placing an obligation on proponents to
provide some funding toward the maintenance. However, this may not be a long
term option. The NCA has in one instance (the National Police Memorial)
retained funds ($50,000) for post construction maintenance. This funding has
since been expended and the NCA now maintains the memorial without receiving
A longer term financially sustainable model would be a modest automatic increase in the NCA’s base funding to align
with the completion of new assets (such as memorials and artworks).
The JSCNCET agrees that the NCA should receive funding adequate to
maintain its responsibilities with regard to the maintenance of memorials,
especially as the number increases over time. However, the Committee also
believes that memorial proponents should contribute to this maintenance along
the lines of the Washington model. The JSCNCET is of the view that such funding
arrangements should be applied whether the Ordinance is reformed or replaced
(see Chapter 4).
The JSCNCET supports the practice in the Washington model regarding
donor names. Under the Commemorative Works Act 1986, donor names cannot
appear on memorials or memorial sites. Mr Acosta explained:
I think the intent is that these are memorials that speak to
the American people, that they are ultimately a completed piece of art that has
to stand the test of time. I think many sponsors actually agree with that and
they don’t necessarily seek to have their names put on a donor wall or have
some other sort of recognition. So to the extent that these are special, that
they are unique and that, at the end of the day, they are contributions back to
the public manages expectations with respect to how private members are
celebrated or recognised.
The rules applying to this matter in Canberra are less prescriptive. The
names of donors have appeared on National Memorials, acknowledging their
contribution to the design and construction of the memorial. However, as the
National Capital Authority explained to the Committee, ‘the controls over
recognition have been pretty strict’:
There are a number of monuments and memorials where significant
contributions have been recognised in basically modest plaques somewhere in the
precinct of the memorial.
The JSCNCET is of the view that the prohibition on donor names enforced
under the Washington model should also be applied to National Memorials and
National Monuments in Canberra (See Chapter 4).
Process for nomination of unfunded memorials
The JSCNCET is concerned that the need to find private sponsorship for
memorial proposals may disadvantage potential sponsors of new memorials and significantly
restrict the development of new memorials to a range of high profile issues.
The JSCNCET believes that as part of the development of the Memorials Master
Plan, consideration should be given to the funding of a wider range of subjects
for commemoration with a view to funding them through a combination of private
and government subscription.
Despite occasional public statements to the contrary, Australia’s
national capital, by comparison with other international capitals, has a modest
commemorative fabric. This has occurred for a range of well-documented
historical, cultural, social and political reasons.
This Report provides a model for a transparent approval process to be
applied to national commemoration. However, the Government must also be mindful
of the need for a working mechanism that is capable of generating worthy
projects for consideration.
Noting the cultural stance outlined in the Guidelines for
Commemorative Works in the National Capital, the committee believes it is
desirable that the capital should be host to a broader expression of
Australia’s diverse cultural and historical fabric. As the Central National
Area Design Study, Looking to the Future, put it: ‘It is not too
outlandish to regard the capital as a symbol of the ideals, dreams,
aspirations, achievements, culture and history of the nation’.
Such commemorative diversity will only be achieved in the medium-term
with an ongoing, tangible, Government commitment—a commitment inviting the
Australian community to initiate bold new expressions of national commemoration
in their national capital.
In part this is a resource question, but the Committee notes that
numerous precedents exist for active Government interest in, and financing of,
significant national commemoration. Rather than a program of one-off funding
(which naturally results in the projects supported by vocal interest groups),
the Government should consider the ongoing funding of a national commemoration
program, with a particular focus on memorials that are unlikely to be built
without government support.
||The JSCNCET recommends that the proposed Memorials Master
Plan incorporate provisions for establishing a wider range of subjects for
commemoration with a view to funding them through a combination of private
and government subscription.