Australia keeps ‘God’ on warrior’s monument

A DECISION to remove the inscription “known unto God” from the Tomb of the Australian Unknown Soldier has been dropped after opposition from new Prime Minister Tony Abbot.

Memorial director Brendan Nelson refused to confirm a report that Mr Abbott, a former Roman Catholic student, had personally intervened to prevent the change but Veterans’ Affairs Minister Michael Ronaldson confirmed Mr Abbott had opposed it.

“I was very, very strongly of the view that this was not the right course of action and he very strongly shared my view,” he said.

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The sandstone war memorial opened in 1941 to commemorate Australians killed in the First World War and is among Canberra’s most popular attractions.

Mr Nelson had proposed replacing the phrase “known unto God,” attributed to UK writer Rudyard Kipling, with the inscription: “We do not know this Australian’s name, we never will.”

Amid accusations of “de-Christianising” the memorial, Mr Nelson said: “This was never driven by some suggestion that we should remove ‘God’ or political correctness or anything of the sort. The motive was to give permanence to this towering Australian speech by an Australian Prime Minister.”

The memorial’s governing council has now settled on a compromise.