The to-ing and fro-ing of the political gravy train that is the Council of the Australian War Memorial (AWM) is back in full swing, with news this week that Labor heavyweight Kim Beazley has been appointed to chair the organisation’s council.
For the last decade or so, the role has been held by former Liberal leader Brendan Nelson. But according to the AWM’s annual report, Nelson forgo the generous $62,010 annual salary to which he was entitled (Nelson already receives a generous pension from his time in parliament).
Beazley – at one time on track to be the Australian Prime Minister, until John Howard pulled the ‘Tampa election’ out of his arse – also received a parliamentary pension upon retiring from office at the 2007 election.
In October this year, the Albanese Government recommended the Governor-General appoint Beazley as a member of the Council of the Australian War Memorial. He was then elected Chair by his fellow Council members.
Folks who didn’t forgo their entitlement included Nelson’s former Council co-chair, Kerry Stokes (that’s right, one of Australia’s richest men and a generous donor to the Liberal and Labor Parties) along with one ‘Anthony Abbott AC’, the former Australian Liberal Prime Minister who pocketed a cool $45,474 annual salary for sitting on the Council (on top of his already very generous parliamentary pension, which rakes him in almost $300,000 a year, plus additional benefits).
No word on whether or not Beazley will follow Nelson’s lead and give up the cash (we’ve put some questions into the AWM).
But it’s worth noting, Beazley has already served briefly as a member of the AWM council (from July to December 2009), before he resigned for a plum appointment as the Australian Ambassador to the US. Other post-politics freebies for Beazley include the role of Governor of Western Australia.
Director of the Australian War Memorial, Matt Anderson, said Beazley’s appointment was warmly welcomed.
“Mr Beazley is one of the longest serving Defence Ministers of this nation and he has an in-depth knowledge of military history,” Mr Anderson said.
“Given his impeccable record during his years of public service, including as Governor of Western Australia, Ambassador to the United States and a distinguished career in politics and academia, Mr Beazley will make a valuable contribution in leading the Council as our new Chair.
“He has an obvious and long held passion for supporting Australian veterans and for our current service men and women and I am sure his empathy and intellect will shine through in his leadership of Council.”
“I look forward to preserving and sharing the stories of Australian service with Mr Beazley as we deliver the Memorial Development project, together.”
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