Apr 18, 2005

Labor lodges FOI request on ANZAC Cove tragedy

LABOR LODGES FOI REQUEST ON ANZAC COVE TRAGEDY

MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 18 April 2005

One of Australia’s leading authorities on the Gallipoli landing, Mike Bowers, today declared he was “absolutely shocked” by the dramatic changes to Anzac Cove created by the road works. Mr Bowers also revealed that a road worker had given him a human bone uncovered by the road works.

Mr Bowers, the co-author of Gallipoli: Untold Stories, said the road works had “dramatically changed” the area and would change the way the Anzac story would now be told. He said that the sacred area of Ari Burnu [translated as ‘bee’s nose”] now looks like a “bee’s broken leg”.

The Howard Government has known for two years that road works at Anzac Cove would damage extensively the site of the original landings at Gallipoli and disturb human remains.

The Government asked for the road works to be done but seeks to avoid any responsibility for the consequences.

The local supervisor for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Ian McQuigg, has told the Sydney Morning Herald that “Anzac is just one big huge burial site, with bones turning up all over the place, especially since the road works began.”

John Howard promised on Insiders on ABC TV on 13 March that road works would stop if human remains were found. Instead, the road works appear to have been sped up.

The Government must come clean. It must tell Australians what, if any, heritage assessments were conducted prior to the road works being requested in August 2004 and what monitoring was put in place to ensure the heritage and integrity of the site was maintained during the road works.

John Howard still hasn’t responded to a 19 March 2005 letter from Australian archaeologist, Dr David Cameron, in which he detailed his April 2003 briefings of Australian Government officials on his discovery of human remains at Anzac Cove.

John Howard still hasn’t responded to my questions in Parliament on 17 March.

On 10 March he stated it was “regrettable” questions were even being asked.

Late last week, 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 as a result of its own request for these road works.

As the 90th Anniversary of the ANZAC landings approaches it is time for the Government to stop the spin and start to answer these legitimate questions.