Apr 26, 2005

Howard’s Gallipoli offer an admission the road at ANZAC Cove was a mistake


MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 26 April 2005

The offer by John Howard to help maintain the heritage of Anzac Cove and the Gallipoli peninsula is too late to repair the damage done to Anzac Cove by the road the Howard Government requested.

The Howard Government bungled the road works at this sacred site by failing to observe basic heritage principles. The road should not have been requested by the Howard Government without a comprehensive heritage assessement, and the road works should have been monitored by archaeological and heritage experts.

The Howard Government should have shown more respect for Australia’s heritage. They have been more interested in borrowing the credibility of our Anzac heritage than protecting it.

Two years ago senior Government officials were warned by archaeologists and heritage experts that road works at Anzac Cove would extensively damage the site of the original landings at Gallipoli.

In August 2004 the Howard Government asked the Turkish Government for the road works at Anzac Cove in time for the 90th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing. If the Howard Government did not ask for the road it would never have been built.

This is in spite of Mr Howard’s unequivocal commitment in December 2003 that Anzac Cove would be the first site listed on the National Heritage List.

Yet the Government still seeks to avoid responsibility for the destruction of the cliff faces and the beach at Anzac Cove.

When Labor raised concerns about the road works in Parliament on 10 March 2005 the Prime Minister arrogantly responded it was “regrettable” the question was even asked.

After refusing to set out any details of the Government’s involvement with the road at Anzac Cove, on 14 April I lodged an extensive Freedom of Information request to extract some answers as to how the Government could have sat idly by while this tragedy unfolded.

It is time for the Government to stop the spin and answer these legitimate questions.