War Memorial at the centre of its own battle


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The War Memorial is set to undergo a $500m redevelopment…and not everyone is happy.

When the Australian War Memorial was opened in 1941, then-Governor-General Lord Gowrie said people should come out of the memorial saying: “no more war, never again, no more war.”

He believed the memorial should be a reflection on the devastating nature of war rather than a celebration of military firepower.

Almost 80 years later, Lord Gowrie’s sentiment is at the heart of the debate about a proposed $500m dollar redevelopment of the AWM.

The federal government has approved the plan because it wants to create space to acknowledge those who served in more recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Despite the high regard and popularity of the war memorial, the expansion has many critics.

Reporter Laurence Kelson spoke with Michael McKernan, a renowned war historian and former deputy director at the AWM, about why the redevelopment is so polarising.