On the eve of Anzac Day 2012, the Prime Minister expressed her hopes for the Centenary of Anzac:
Anzac Day in 2015, I believe, will be like the bicentenary. It will be one of the commemorations that shape our nation and our understanding of who we are today.
The 2012–13 Budget has allocated $83.5 million over seven years to fund initiatives relating to the Centenary of Anzac and the 100th anniversary of the First World War. This includes expected appropriations out to 2018–19, beyond the forward estimates period.
The 2010–11 Budget included the first funding measures relating to the Centenary of Anzac. An initial $2.3 million in ‘seed funding’ was allocated to ‘plan the commemoration activities to mark the Centenary’. The funding allocation coincided with the announcement on Anzac Day 2010 by the then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd that a National Commission on the Commemoration of the Anzac Centenary would be formed.
The Commission recommended the establishment of a Centenary Advisory Board, the formation of which the Government announced in July 2011, chaired by former Chief of the Defence Force Angus Houston. A total of $350 000 was allocated to the Board in the 2011–12 Budget.
In late 2010 and early 2011 some commentators expressed concern that the Australian War Memorial (AWM) would be unable to properly commemorate the Centenary within its current budget. As detailed in the Parliamentary Library’s Budget Review 2011–12, the Government announced a four-year $35.2 million funding increase to assist the AWM in maintaining its current activities ‘and, importantly, prepare for the Centenary of the Anzac landings and other important military anniversaries’.
In November 2011, the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs announced that it was allocating $1.3 million to design an ‘Anzac Interpretive Centre’ in Albany, Western Australia. Albany was the point of departure for the first convoy of Australian soldiers sailing to the Middle East in November 1914 and will play a key role in the Centenary commemorations.
The allocation of $83.5 million in the 2012–13 Budget was initially announced on 24 April 2012, and although the federal Opposition indicated support for the program, it expressed dismay at the ‘delay’ in making an announcement regarding funding for the Centenary. It should be noted that up to 40 per cent of the $83.5 million funding was announced prior to the release of the 2012–13 Budget, including $5.6 million for the Anzac Interpretive Centre in Albany and $27 million for the refurbishment of the First World galleries at the Australian War Memorial.
Interestingly, funding for the Centenary has again increased the AWM’s budget, on top of the increase provided in last year’s Budget. This means that while many other public sector agencies will experience staff cuts this year, the number of employees at the AWM will increase slightly, from 292 to an expected 312. Similarly, and in contrast to many other public service agencies, the budget for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs remains steady this year at $12.2 billion.
The chart below illustrates the AWM’s dramatic rise in funding since 2010–11, and highlights the expected peak in the institution’s funding (relating to preparations for the Centenary) in 2013–14.
. M Harris, ‘Australian War Memorial funding,’ Australia, Parliamentary Library, Budget review 2011–12, Research paper, no. 13, 2010–11, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2011, viewed 10 May 2012; J Gillard (Prime Minister) and W Snowdon (Minister for Veterans’ Affairs), Funding boost for the Australian War Memorial, media release, 3 March 2011, viewed 10 May 2012.
. The chart contains budget figures (not actual appropriations) drawn from each year’s Department of Veterans’ Affairs Portfolio Budget Statements by combining funding allocated under Appropriation Bill (No. 1) and equity injections funded under Appropriation Bill (No. 2). It should be noted that the increase in the AWM’s funding, between 2006–07 and 2008–09 resulted, at least partly, from equity injections to assist in the construction of the AWM’s Eastern Precinct.
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