Australian War Memorial project to remove asbestos, lead paint

The project will also restore some of its damaged stone facade.

A construction company will address three issues: the removal of asbestos found within the gaps between the sandstone blocks; lead paint from the window frames; and repairing damaged blocks on the main building’s north-facing wall.

The work will be completed in three stages and focus only on the wall that faces Mount Ainslie. The scaffolding won’t be visible from Anzac Parade and won’t cover the building’s iconic dome.

Director Matt Anderson said the dangerous mineral presented no immediate harm to the public and the works were a proactive response to mitigate future problems.

“The asbestos containing material being removed from the memorial’s main building is non-friable and poses no immediate potential for harm; but taking this action proactively to remove it will eliminate future risks that would arise if the material deteriorates over time,” Mr Anderson said.

The project first went to tender in December 2020 after a maintenance survey identified the three issues within the institution’s main building.

It’s expected the works will be completed by the end of August.

The maintenance project is unrelated to the memorial’s controversial $500 million redevelopment project, which has been the subject of debate by heritage experts, historians and the public at large.

The project, which will demolish Anzac Hall to make way for a larger exhibition space, has passed through a number of hurdles and is close to being given the final sign off by authorities.

Parliamentary committee delivered its report on Monday recommending the project proceed but Labor committee members weren’t in total agreement.

Labor’s Tony Zappia and David Smith said they agreed with the premise of the project but urged the government to consider alternative plans in order to save the Anzac Hall and cut costs.

“The Labor members of the committee have sought to hold the government and the AWM to account over the proposal to ensure it is delivered on time and on budget,” the members said.

“We also seek to ensure that effective community and stakeholder consultation is undertaken on the proposal, and that the heritage and integrity of the building – as a solemn place of commemoration – is preserved.”

It now awaits final approval from the National Capital Authority.

The Australian War Memorial will undergo heritage remediation works over the next six months unrelated to the controversial redevelopment project.

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