Jun 17, 2005

Cover-up over Anzac Cove road works

Cover-up over Anzac Cove road works

MEDIA RELEASE – Anthony Albanese MP – 17 June 2005

The Howard Government has denied access to important information on the controversial road works at Anzac Cove and the heritage listing of that area.

The Government’s reply to my FOI request says it has denied access because there is “not a continuing debate” over the road works and it would not be “any general benefit to the public in the release of information”.

In March, the Howard Government denied human remains of soldiers had been dug up by the road works it requested. The Government then questioned the integrity of witnesses to that desecration of human remains.

The Howard Government’s request for road works was made after heritage experts and archaeologists who had surveyed Anzac Cove had warned senior Australian Government officials of the dreadful damage that works in the area would cause. It is appalling the road works were requested after senior officials had been warned of the likely damage.

Playing the Bee Gees to the Dawn Service crowd, including the song “Stayin’ Alive”, further highlighted the Government’s appalling judgement over Anzac Cove.

Since March there has been a huge public interest in why the road works were requested, who paid for them and why the Anzac Cove area was not better protected before, during and after the road works and the 90th anniversary commemorations.

On 14 April 2005, I lodged an FOI application in relation to the road works at Anzac Cove and heritage listing of that area with the Departments of Veterans Affairs, Prime Minister and Cabinet, Foreign Affairs and Trade and Environment & Heritage.

The Government proposes to charge me well over $10,000 to process the FOI requests because all four Departments believe the disclosure of how the Government made its decisions over the road works and heritage listing is not in the public interest.

I strongly believe the Government should be fully accountable on this matter of public and national interest.

I will be pursuing my FOI application.