RAAF Museum is resurrected

THE Wagga RAAF Museum is coming home – to Forest Hill – in 2009.On Saturday, the site of the former museum at the gates of RAAF Base Wagga came to life for the first time since its closure almost a decade ago.Member for Riverina Kay Hull joined her political neighbour, member for Eden-Monaro Mike Kelly, and guests from Wagga City Council and AirCare for a small celebration with big significance.A $65,000 cash injection from the Australian Defence Force budget will see the Wagga RAAF museum reopened to the public in 2009.There won’t be a debate over the location – it is to be reinstated inside the old guard building, at the front of the RAAF Base at Forest Hill.Most importantly, the announcement came with a promise that once it reopens, it will never be closed again.“The Wagga RAAF Museum is coming home … it’s been a 'people-power' effort; one that is indicative of the spirit of regional people,” said Mike Kelly, Parliamentary Secretary for Defence Support.“The Australian Defence Force is not separate from the community – it serves the community, is part of the community and belongs to the community.”The money has given new meaning to the “closed for refurbishment” signs which have haunted the highway leading to the RAAF Base Wagga since 2001.It was then the Wagga RAAF Museum first shut with a promise that it would be rebuilt and re-established.But when the Department of Defence reneged on that promise in September, The Daily Advertiser and AirCare joined forces to produce a petition to call for its reopening.Almost 3000 signatures poured in from across the country and overseas which were presented to Federal Parliament by Mrs Hull on October 16.Saturday’s $65,000 pledge is on top of the $200,000 which was spent on a major structural building upgrade several years ago.It will go towards providing wheelchair access and a security upgrade which is due for completion in February 2009.Group Captain Dave Richardson, the Director of Air Force Heritage, said they would work towards reopening the Wagga RAAF Museum on October 18 next year to coincide with an open day and air show at the base.

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