Letter to the Editor of The Age

14 November 2019

Dear Editor,

Terry Martin asks why a billionaire could not provide his services to the Australian War Memorial pro bono and “leave a few more crumbs for veterans” (Letters 13 Nov).

Kerry Stokes AC has served on the Council of the Australian War Memorial for over a decade, appointed by both sides of politics.

He has donated every cent payable to him back to the Australian War Memorial. He has never accepted a cent for air travel or accommodation.

In my seven years as Director of the Memorial he has donated millions of dollars to the Memorial for exhibitions, Victoria Crosses, medal groups and to support major events. He found and gifted to our nation the Lost Diggers of Vignacourt which has travelled Australia. As a result, families have literally found one another.

Further to this he has quietly supported a wide range of veteran causes, projects and families of veterans.

Without his advocacy, there would not be the spaces needed to tell the stories of the 100,000 young veterans created by this nation over the past twenty years that are about to be built.

Most poignantly, Mr Stokes’ emotional investment and belief in those who have worn our uniform is beyond words.

He is one of the finest men this country has produced. Certainly one of the finest I have known.

The decision of the Remuneration Tribunal to increase fees paid to Council members is made completely independent of the Memorial. It has been done so specifically for the period of the $500 million project to expand the Memorial to recognise major governance responsibilities of Council members.

Mr Stokes has already indicated he will donate it all the Memorial, and in doing so – to veterans.

Yours sincerely

 

Brendan Nelson

NOTE - An edited version of this letter was printed in The Age today. This is the full version which was submitted to The Age.