MOMENTUM is growing behind a push to make the National Anzac Centre (NAC) free entry to all visitors.
The City of Albany held preliminary talks with the Federal Government early last year on the idea, but discussions stalled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, plans to remove admission fees to the NAC took a step forward this week with Federal Veterans’ Affairs Minister Darren Chester visiting Albany on Tuesday to map out a path where all levels of government contribute towards the running of the museum.
“I’m very open to the conversation about how we ensure the Anzac Centre can be refreshed when it needs to be and the recurrent costs for the centre can be evenly shared across the nation,” he said.
“If the current admission prices are a barrier to Australians learning about their nation’s history, that’s a problem for me as Minister.”
The City of Albany took charge of running the museum after it was opened in 2014 to mark the 100th anniversary of the departure of Australian and New Zealand troops headed for the battlefields of World War I.
This year, the City refreshed the museum’s multimedia features at a cost to ratepayers of over $550,000.
Albany Mayor Dennis Wellington said the City would put together a busines case in the coming months about the best way for the museum to be managed.
“The visitor numbers are a bit over 60,000 a year,” he said.
“I think they would be a lot stronger if there was free entry.”
While entry to the NAC costs $25 for adults and $11 for children, there is no such admission fee for the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.
Mr Chester said he would like to see the two museums build a stronger relationship going forward.
“I’m keen to explore options that they have a formal relationship into the future, rather than the current structure,” he said.
“As a matter of principle, I find it hard to rationalise that a centre of such national significance requires Australians to pay to enter when the War Memorial in Canberra is free.”