The Australian War Memorial (Image: AAP/Lukas Coch)

For years now, the Australian War Memorial (AWM) has been a key component in the Coalition's attempt to own Australia's military history and traditions. The AWM is chaired by Liberal supporter Kerry Stokes; Tony Abbott is also a board member, along with Josephine Stone, wife of former Country Liberal leader Shane Stone. Another board member, former SAS commander James McMahon, is an executive for Stokes.

As close AWM watchers also point out, the government has stacked the board with military and ex-military figures.

That period has coincided with the war memorial becoming something more akin to a giant military theme park than a solemn place of commemoration, with major defence and surveillance companies queueing up to be "corporate partners". That has culminated in the absurdly over-the-top half-billion dollar "philistine vandalism" of the memorial -- to use the words of another former director -- initiated by former Liberal leader Brendan Nelson when AWM director.