Apr 17, 2005

Letter reveals Government knew ANZAC Cove Heritage vulnerable to road works


MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 17 April 2005

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.

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

On 17 March this year I asked the Prime Minister in Question Time about archaeological work undertaken by Dr David Cameron at Anzac Cove in early 2003. Despite the Prime Minister’s commitment to seek advice and respond in due course, I have not received a reply.

Australian archaeologist, Dr David Cameron of Sydney University, has written to both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition disclosing that senior Government officials were briefed in April 2003 on the “discovery of human remains at Anzac Cove”.

Dr Cameron’s letter, dated April 10, 2005 is attached.

Dr Cameron’s letter makes it clear the Government knew the road works would extensively damage Anzac Cove and disturb human remains, and that the Government has done nothing to monitor the works to ensure the heritage and integrity of the site was not damaged.

We now know:

• The Howard Government asked the Turkish Government in August 2004 for the extensive road works at Anzac Cove to be carried out in time for the 90th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing.

• Dr Cameron found human remains in early 2003 at the site where the road works were to be done.

• Dr Cameron told the Office of Australian War Graves and the Australian Ambassador to Turkey what he had found. He also briefed Environment Australia before he began his archaeological survey.

• Dr Cameron reported directly and in detail to Air-Vice Marshall Gary Beck, the Head of the Office of Australian War Graves, in April 2003.

• Dr Cameron gave Mr Beck photos of a human thigh bone and other war-time artefacts he had found at Anzac Cove.

• Dr Cameron emailed Mr Beck on 13 March this year reminding him of their discussion two years ago. Dr Cameron says he was “condescendingly dismissed”.

• When Labor raised this issue in Parliament on 10 March 2005 the Prime Minister responded that it was “regrettable” the question was asked.

Information from Dr Cameron’s 2003 survey is at http://car.anu.edu.au/Jan2003newsfull.html This website includes photographs of the human thigh bone found at Anzac Cove and other artefacts.

It is standard practice for work at sites which could disturb human remains or artefacts to be closely monitored.

If John Howard was serious about protecting our heritage, he would have made sure there was a heritage management plan and that heritage experts and archaeologists monitored all the road works.

As we approach the 90th anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli, all Australians should be concerned at the desecration of one of our most sacred sites.