Former Labor statesman Kim Beazley’s appointment to the Australian War Memorial board is being scrutinized by the federal government, with a decision expected after current member and outgoing chairman Brendan Nelson left in mid-November .
Beazley is a former Labor leader, Minister of Defence, Governor of Western Australia and Ambassador to the United States and is seen by many members of the Parliamentary Labor Party as the ideal person to fill the position of adviser.
And while Veterans Affairs Minister Matt Keogh can’t choose who will replace Nelson as chairman – the board picks one of its own for the $80,000-a-year elevation to the role – sources from the federal government, who asked not to be named, told this masthead that Beazley was a strong contender for the top job, given his decades of public service and extensive knowledge of military history. .
Since stepping down as governor of Western Australia, Beazley has served on the board of directors of the US Asia Center in Perth and has been involved with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.
The new chair will not be selected until early 2023 after the new board member is appointed and may participate in the selection of the chair.
Beazley’s appointment would also prevent a more politically controversial appointment of RSL national chairman and board member Greg Melick.
The decision to extend commemoration and recognition of the border wars between Indigenous Australians and British settlers was announced by Nelson last month, with support from Minister Keogh.
This marked a reversal of Nelson’s previous position that the National Museum should document the border wars, not the War Memorial, and was criticized by Opposition Veterans Affairs spokesman Barnaby Joyce and opposition defense critic Andrew Hastie.