Australia's military history is set to live on for centuries in Albany following the State Government’s commitment of more than $8 million to Centenary of Anzac commemorations due to begin in 2014.
Last Thursday Premier Colin Barnett visited the Desert Mounted Corps memorial to announce $5.84 million had been set aside for restoration and upgrade works at Mt Clarence on top of $2.2 million allocated for the construction of a highly anticipated Anzac Interpretive Centre.
The funding tops up the shortfall left by the Federal Government’s pledge to provide $6.5 million to the interpretive centre, announced when Prime Minister Julia Gillard visited Albany in April this year.
Albany Centenary of Anzac Alliance chairman Peter Aspinall said the multi-million dollar commitment, made available immediately, would serve to create a historic military monument designed to last for hundreds of years.
“All over Europe and America they have memorials 400, 500, 800 years old, so why shouldn’t we have one,” he said.
An alliance board meeting on Thursday is set to vote on final confirmation of the project and let the City of Albany advertise tenders for the upgrade of Mt Clarence, which will include revitalising the Avenue of Honour, increasing the area size around the Desert Mounted Corps memorial and improving public access and infrastructure on the mount.
Mr Aspinall said designs for the interpretive centre would be handed over to the alliance by September, with project tender winners expected to start construction in early 2013.
Mr Barnett also revealed the Department of Premier and Cabinet, along with the alliance, would create and lead a specially formed “task force” comprising State and Federal Government departments, RSL members and City of Albany staff to plan and co-ordinate events during Anzac centenary commemorations.
State RSL president Bill Gaynor said the final green light, expected to be delivered on Thursday, would signal the start of Albany being home to a “world-class facility”.
“Nothing will be spared in seeing it has everything that tells the story of our Anzacs that left here to defend our country,” he said.
“My enthusiasm is that we’ve passed this milestone of funding and can now move ahead and do those diggers the honour of remembering them.”
Mr Gaynor said significant agreements had also been reached the corporate sector including Rio Tinto, Fortescue Metals Group and Seven West Media as well as the Defence Force to support Centenary of Anzac commemorations in Albany.