Doubt cast over Albany Anzac Centre

KEIR TUNBRIDGEAlbany Advertiser

The future of the long-awaited multi-million dollar Anzac Interpretive Centre in Albany is under a cloud, with nobody prepared to commit to its long-term management.

A $9 million complex, it has been touted as the potential centrepiece of the 2014-18 Anzac centenary commemorations, but has been plagued by funding delays.

While State and Federal money has been secured to build the facility, the City of Albany cannot afford to run it.

The National Trust of WA has been mooted as a potential long-term manager, but Premier Colin Barnett said a business case completed recently by the Trust indicated a need for more funding.

Speaking in Albany on Sunday, Mr Barnett ruled out the Government temporarily propping up management of the centre, which it is doing for the $70 million Albany Entertainment Centre, and called for the ambitious proposal to be scaled down.

“What is built needs to be something that is realistic and will pay its own way in future years,” he said.

“Interpretive centres sometimes don’t work out and I just hope this one doesn’t get too much ahead of itself.”

Albany MP Peter Watson said he was disgusted by the Premier’s attitude and said Labor would commit to supporting the centre for its first few years if needed.

Mr Watson said the centre had the potential to be a world-class facility alongside Canberra’s Australian War Memorial and called on the Government to do whatever it took to make it a reality.

Plans are still being finalised, with the interpretive centre expected to offer panoramic views of King George Sound and high-tech interactive displays. Construction was due to begin this year, but earlier this month environmental and Aboriginal heritage assessments meant works were delayed until at least March next year.

The Government has already committed about $8 million to Albany’s Anzac plans, including about $2.2 million for the centre, complementing a Federal commitment of $6.5 million.

Mr Barnett said his Government would be responsible for funding and managing the overall centenary events, expected to include a re-enactment in November 2014.

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