Apr 18, 2005

Nothing “inevitable” about ANZAC Cove tragedy


MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 18 April 2005

John Howard’s statement today that it was inevitable human bones would be uncovered by the road works at Anzac Cove shows an alarming lack of respect for the site of the original landings at Gallipoli.

It also represents an extraordinary change of position by the Prime Minister.

On 13 March, John Howard dismissed eyewitness reports that human remains had been uncovered when he stated:

“the advice continues to be from the Turkish authorities that archaeological work was carried out before the construction. They are satisfied that no bones had been found or disturbed and they continue to be of the view that if there were any found then the road works would stop.” (Source, ABC TV Insiders program)

The Prime Minister now says "Inevitably when so many people have died in such a small area bones are going to turn up”. But, there’s been no stop to the road works.

His statement only serves to reinforce that there should have been a heritage management plan and that heritage experts and archaeologists should have monitored the road works.

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

The 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.

We know from eyewitness reports that the topography of Anzac Cove has been dramatically altered. We also know from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission that human bones are “turning up all over the place”.

There was nothing inevitable about these road works.

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