Mar 16, 2005

Answers still needed about ANZAC Cove


MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 16 March 2005

Labor again moved in the House of Representatives this evening to require the Government to provide important information relating to the current road works at Anzac Cove. The Government again refused to debate the motion and gagged the debate.

The massive disturbance of Anzac Cove will change the very character of this historical site, including cutting back the hills directly above Anzac Cove.

John Howard’s assertion there is no evidence human bones having been uncovered is contradicted by the many photos published by media outlets of that very fact.

It is simply not good enough for the Prime Minister to state it is “regrettable” that Labor has raised questions regarding these important issues.

The verbal briefing given to Senator Mark Bishop today by Senator Hill has confirmed that no undertakings or safeguards were sought by the Australian Government when requesting these road works at Anzac Cove.

The public deserves answers to the following:

• Why was it more than a week after the first reports of human remains being uncovered at excavations at Anzac Cove before any Australian official attempted to contact historian and journalist Bill Sellars to verify the accuracy of his public comments?

• Why didn’t Ambassador Jean Dunn request that Bill Sellars accompany her to Anzac Cove to show her where the human remains had been found?

• Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has said that some additional repair work may be needed at ANZAC Cove after excavations are completed. Why would repair work be needed if, as the Prime Minister has contended all along, that Turkish officials are doing everything possible to preserve the heritage of the area and do as little damage to the site as possible?

• In late February and early March 2005, the head of the Australian Office of War Graves, Air Vice Marshal (Rtd) Garry Beck was in Turkey and inspected the work at ANZAC Cove. Air Vice Marshal Beck then wrote a report on the work for the Minister of Veterans’ Affairs, Ms DeAnne Kelly. Is the government going to make this report public?

• Why did the Prime Minister state one of the fragments of human remains found at the site had "disappeared" and the other had been "covered up" when in fact, according to Bill Sellars, the bone was still there?

• Did the Australian government approve the plans to widen the road above ANZAC Cove and to excavate back into the hills to a depth of 20 metres?

• Was this work originally requested by the government on this scale?

• Does the Australian government have any knowledge of plans to widen the road that runs between the Australian memorial at Lone Pine and the New Zealand memorial at Chunuk Bair?

• How does the Prime Minister reconcile his claims that a thorough archaeological study of the area to be excavated was conducted with statements in the Daily Telegraph of March 12 by a Turkish expert who took part in one of the surveys which said that the study was neither thorough nor scientific?

These and other questions are necessary because the Government has refused to be open and accountable about the circumstances relating to the massive road works at Anzac Cove.

The Government should table these documents immediately.



MR ALBANESE: I move – That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent the Member for Grayndler from moving the following motion forthwith:

That the Government

1. Immediately table all documents in its possession related to excavation work at Anzac Cove, including any archaeological reports done since 2002, all heritage assessments of Anzac Cove done since 2002, and all correspondence with the Turkish Government since 2002 relating to the current road works and associated constructions at Anzac Cove.

2. Outline in detail what measures the Government has taken to monitor the current road works and associated constructions at Anzac Cove.

3. Provide details of any plans for road widening elsewhere on Gallipoli peninsula, such as the road running between the Australian Memorial at Lone Pine and the New Zealand Memorial at Chunuk Bair.

4. Immediately table all Australian Heritage Commission, Australian Heritage Council and Department of Veterans Affairs documents relating to the proposed listing of Anzac Cove on the National Heritage List or the proposed World Heritage Listing of any sites on the Gallipoli Peninsula.