During Budget Estimates hearings, then Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon (NSW) asked Dr Brendan Nelson, Director of the Australian War Memorial, how much the Memorial had received in donations from military and defence firms. The answer covered the years 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18 year to date, which would have been almost the full year, as the answer was posted in Hansard on 25 July 2018.
The full extract from Hansard, with the exchange between the Senator and the Director (Question 166), is in the attached pdf download, including a handy table. The big numbers for the three years are: BAE Systems Australia $150,000.00; Boeing $332,837.40; Leidos Australia $175,000; Lockheed Martin Australia $413,636.36; Thales Australia $180,000.00.
The three-year total of the tape is $1,271,473.76. This is valuable information to have to hand, particularly given the Memorial’s previous reluctance to divulge dollars and cents as with, for example, the non-arms dealer donor, Dr Chau Chak Wing, who has stumped up $560,000.
It would be even more useful if the Memorial were to reconcile these figures with those published in its successive annual reports, including those going back further than the three years requested by Senator Rhiannon. (For example, Boeing gave $1,000,000 and Lockheed Martin $500,000 in 2014-15.) The Memorial’s annual reports have been notable for their lack of clarity about whether donors are listed on the basis of their annual or cumulative donations and for their inconsistent recording of donation amounts.
Finally, Senator Rhiannon’s question concluded thus: ‘Moving on, how much private sponsorship does the government expect the War Memorial to source each year?’ Unless we are missing something, this question does not seem to have been addressed by the Memorial.
This article was published by Honest History on the 13th of September 2018.