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Defence Department Artfully Duds Diggers

23 February 2017 / Press Releases

The Turnbull Government, through the Defence Department, has betrayed vulnerable war veterans by cynically putting on the commercial market an iconic Melbourne building that had been ear-marked as an art sanctuary for troubled vets, according to Victorian Senator Derryn Hinch.

Defence Department Artfully Duds Diggers

The project involves an art deco building, adjacent to the Victoria Barracks on St. Kilda Rd, that has been vacant for 20 years. It was first used as a vital rehab centre for World War I veterans and was opened in 1937.

‘This is shameless. This is a disgrace,’ Senator Hinch said.

‘The federal government has been in long talks to transfer the abandoned building on Crown land to the veterans for a peppercorn lease. Lord Mayor Doyle has been involved in talks. So has Premier Andrews. It was a Labor Party federal election promise last year.’

The Senator pointed out that the building is part of Victoria Barracks, near the Arts Centre and almost part of the Shrine complex.

‘Art is an important part of our military history,’ he said. ‘It is part of the recovery process for returned soldiers who suicide at an alarming rate.’

He quoted one of the most heroic, and beloved, heroes of Changi Prison, Weary Dunlop, who once said:

‘Get men working at arts and crafts in the hospital thereby helping them acquire an interest in life’.

And former Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, who as Flt. Lt. E.G. Whitlam was the last military veteran PM, said: ‘Of all the objectives of my government, none had a higher priority than the encouragement of the Arts; the preservation and enrichment of our cultural and intellectual heritage’.

Now, the Defence Department has formally listed the property for sale.

Senator Hinch said: ‘This is a terrible betrayal of veterans. It callously ignores a suicide rate far above the norm. I will do my damnedest to stop this happening. I promise. I owe it to the vets’.

The Turnbull Government, through the Defence Department, has betrayed vulnerable war veterans by cynically putting on the commercial market an iconic Melbourne building that had been ear-marked as an art sanctuary for troubled vets, according to Victorian Senator Derryn Hinch.

The project involves an art deco building, adjacent to the Victoria Barracks on St. Kilda Rd, that has been vacant for 20 years. It was first used as a vital rehab centre for World War I veterans and was opened in 1937.

‘This is shameless. This is a disgrace,’ Senator Hinch said.

‘The federal government has been in long talks to transfer the abandoned building on Crown land to the veterans for a peppercorn lease. Lord Mayor Doyle has been involved in talks. So has Premier Andrews. It was a Labor Party federal election promise last year.’

The Senator pointed out that the building is part of Victoria Barracks, near the Arts Centre and almost part of the Shrine complex.

‘Art is an important part of our military history,’ he said. ‘It is part of the recovery process for returned soldiers who suicide at an alarming rate.’

He quoted one of the most heroic, and beloved, heroes of Changi Prison, Weary Dunlop, who once said:

‘Get men working at arts and crafts in the hospital thereby helping them acquire an interest in life’.

And former Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, who as Flt. Lt. E.G. Whitlam was the last military veteran PM, said: ‘Of all the objectives of my government, none had a higher priority than the encouragement of the Arts; the preservation and enrichment of our cultural and intellectual heritage’.

Now, the Defence Department has formally listed the property for sale.

Senator Hinch said: ‘This is a terrible betrayal of veterans. It callously ignores a suicide rate far above the norm. I will do my damnedest to stop this happening. I promise. I owe it to the vets’.

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