War Memorial to get $500m makeover
A $500 million overhaul will see the biggest expansion of the Australian War Memorial since its opening in 1941.
The Canberra memorial has run out of space because of the growing number of times Australia has deployed servicemen and women to fight wars or maintain peace.
The building work will take nine years to complete, and will not alter the existing facade of the memorial, a vista known throughout the country.
When completed there will be a digital display of every site commemorating fallen Australians - Places of Pride - which will allow visitors to call up their hometown monuments.
There will be extra room to display huge fighting machines, but also quiet areas for reflection and research.
The new memorial won't be only a museum of the past. It will offer live crosses to current defence personal as they go about their daily work.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison today said the bipartisan project worth $498 million will "tell new stories in new ways".
"It means the Australian War Memorial will be able to display more of their collection and proudly tell the stories from recent years in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Solomon Islands and East Timor," Mr Morrison said.
"We want to recognise the service of our Australian Defence Force members and safeguard a place for history to present and communicate those stories not yet written."
The massive redevelopment is expected to increase the area open to visitors by 83 per cent, or some 10,000sq m.
Mr Morrison said the extra funding would not affect the $1.5 billion allocated to new services for military veterans.
War Memorial director Brendan Nelson said just a fraction of the collection is currently on display.
"In crowded galleries, the stories of Australian military service from the Boer War through to the First and Second World Wars, Korea, and Vietnam are all largely told," he said.
"Yet, the service of 70,000 young Australians in the Middle East Area of operations of the past two decades currently covers only two per cent of available space.
"The opportunity, and the responsibility our nation now has, is to proudly tell the stories of what has been done in recent years in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Solomon Islands, and East Timor, and in peacekeeping and humanitarian operations.
"We must tell these stories not years or decades after they have occurred, but now. It is also the stories of families who love and support them."
Shadow Minister for Veterans' Affairs Amanda Rishworth said Labor supported the project.
"Whatever political arguments we have in the chambers on either side of this room, both parties are here together today, united in our respect for your service," she said, referring to veterans and serving defence members.
"And we stand together in our determination to do right by you and your families."
Ms Rishworth quoted former prime minister John Curtin, who opened the memorial 77 years ago, saying the Memorial's role was to "provide for all time to the generations that will inhabit this land, a place where they may have brought before them, in the most conspicuous way, the legends of their country, and come to know something of the deeds that kept their freedom unimpaired".