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ADF Plans to Demolish Historic WWII Buildings at Point Cook

Building demolitions RAAF Base Point Cook

The Point Cook RAAF Base, a site steeped in military aviation history and the birthplace of the Royal Australian Air Force in 1921, is at the centre of a new debate. The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has put forward a proposal to tear down 19 structures on the base, citing them as obsolete or hazardous. These buildings include notable World War II relics such as Bellman hangars and RAAF standard huts, along with storage units and restrooms.

In an effort to involve the public in the decision-making process, a period for public comment was initiated on March 27, with a deadline set for April 11. This move comes after a pause in demolition plans that were originally set forth in 2019, halted by the base’s rich historical significance.

Recognized for its historical importance, Point Cook has been operational since 1913, making it Australia’s inaugural military aviation facility. It proudly sits on both the National (NHL) and Commonwealth Heritage Lists, with over 100 of its constructions protected for their heritage value.

RAAF Base barracks

Despite the protective measures, an ADF report accompanied by a heritage impact assessment concluded that the removal of 15 World War II-related structures would likely harm the site’s National Heritage values. Yet, it controversially approved the demolition, arguing that the overall historical significance of the RAAF Base Point Cook would not be compromised due to the substantial number of similar-era buildings that convey the base’s history.

This perspective has not been universally accepted. Graham Malcom, who served at Point Cook in the late ’60s and early ’70s, and now resides in Tasmania, criticizes the ADF’s perceived negligence towards the base’s heritage. He argues that the recent secretive approach to demolitions reflects a broader indifference to preserving the base’s historical integrity.

The idea of selling Point Cook has been floated by Defence in previous years, notably in 2012 and 2016. Contrary to selling, Malcom proposes that the base should be entrusted to a heritage organization, drawing parallels with the Sydney Harbour Trust’s stewardship of former naval sites, ensuring the preservation of its historical essence for future generations.

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