In just over six months it will be ANZAC Day 2015. Communities around Australia have been busy preparing for events to commemorate 100 years since the Gallipoli landings.
What should Redland City be doing to mark the ANZAC Centenary?
Does Cleveland need a new ANZAC memorial?
Two designs have been released for a proposed new ANZAC memorial in Cleveland. In February the RSL proposed building a 60 metre long brick wall at the northern end of Linear Park.
Local residents objected to an assault on their open space. Petitions signed by 700 people (from all over Redland City) called for no memorial or other structures to be built in Linear Park.
Then the Redland City Council stepped in and (with no community consultation) produced a ‘revised’ design, lower in height.
This time it is down the slope at the eastern end, across the road from the RSL Club (see area outlined in blue in the overview map).
Linear Park is an inappropriate location for an ANZAC Centenary memorial – or any structure.
- It is not ‘vacant land’ which is how the RSL Sub-Branch President described it, oblivious to the fact that many people value the amenity of landscape views and open space.
- It is state land reserved as public parkland and used by hundreds of people including many who live in the increasing number of infill apartments being developed in Cleveland.
- The City Council is the trustee for Linear Park and is responsible for proper management of this area on behalf of the State Government.
But there is a deeper, glaring objection to locating a monument in Linear Park. It would mean realigning the focus of ANZAC commemoration away from the existing memorial that was erected by servicemen who returned to the Redlands after World War I.
How could that be considered an appropriate way to mark 100 years of our history?
Why is the ANZAC monument paramount?
The 1919 sandstone monument – its broken column symbolising lives cut short – is the authentic, enduring heart of ANZAC memories in Cleveland. In this cenotaph are vested the emotions, the hearts and sorrow of those who actually mourned husbands, sons, uncles, brothers, sweethearts, mates.
The monument was built and paid for by the very residents of Cleveland who lived through World War I: the Great War, the war to end all wars. The memorial was built immediately after the war, at the time when memories and emotions were raw and Australia adopted and ritualised its solemn ANZAC tradition.
The ANZAC landings were foundational in defining the nation. There have been other wars since the Great War, but none will displace the pivotal national significance of World War I and the campaigns fought by Australians and New Zealanders, so far from home, at places that resonate even now with us: Gallipoli, Fromelles, Ypres …
The significance of this sandstone cenotaph erected in 1919 cannot be overestimated. Nor can this monument be eclipsed or sidelined by a secondary, alternative monument constructed in a nearby park.
This cenotaph must remain the central focus of Cleveland’s ANZAC commemorations.
Redesign the 1919 ANZAC precinct
Unfortunately, the memorial is now marooned by a busy road (closed for ANZAC Day services) and an encroaching high-rise building. It is not well-served by the current rather mean landscaping treatment of hedging and concrete. Gaudy advertisements, traffic signs and rubbish bins further detract from the memorial’s dignity.
The setting – which takes in not only the actual site of the monument but also the adjacent roads and green space opposite – needs a high-quality master plan and design. Remodelling the 1919 cenotaph surrounds and precinct would be the basis of a worthwhile submission for a federal grant to commemorate the Gallipoli centenary.
Why the Council’s scheme doesn’t work
The Council’s design for an alternative ANZAC memorial in Linear Park does not resolve overwhelming functional and technical problems faced at the 1919 cenotaph site, of having to accommodate many thousands of people for brief periods on two days of the year.
The constraints of the current venue apply equally to Linear Park: thousands of people not able to see and hear proceedings, congestion when entering and leaving the site, traffic and parking problems.
The proposed Linear Park schemes show no evidence of basic research informing the design: crowd movement, lighting (dawn ceremony), audio and video augmentation.
Information about the cost of the proposed new memorials has not been made available. A federal grant of $100,000 for Redlands is mooted. This does not seem nearly enough to build the Council’s proposed design, so where would the rest of the money come from?
Where is the community input?
The federal grant scheme comes with a proviso that the input of the local community is a key priority. Thirteen Federal electorates in Queensland have already had grants approved for a wide range of activities. In Petrie, for instance, a grant of $4,735 has been given to the Mousetrap Theatre Company to develop, publicise and deliver the performance, ‘It’s a Long Way to Tipperary’.
In the Redlands there has been no involvement of the community in public discussion about appropriate ideas for commemoration of the ANZAC Centenary. Just the sudden, unexplained appearance of proposals for a new ANZAC memorial.
The Redland City Council consistently avoids genuine community consultation. Whatever the issue, input seems drawn from a narrow section of the community only. This is inexcusable.
So who is pushing so hard to spend taxpayers’ money on a new edifice, and why?
Is this idea of building a new memorial a case of local politicians wanting to be remembered, rather than the community remembering the people who sacrificed their lives 100 years ago?
Post by Jackie Cooper
Redland City Council is seeking feedback about a proposed new ANZAC Centenary Memorial in Linear Park up until 27 October 2014.
For more information on this website go to Save Linear Park.