2% for VC hero rejected

George Benyon
George Benyon

BUSINESSMAN George Benyon has rejected a $3000 donation from the Albury Council towards a life-size statue of Victoria Cross recipient Albert Borella planned outside his nursery and cafe.

The statue, made by a Melbourne sculptor, will be located on privately owned land outside Cafe Borellas and is due to be unveiled in July.

Mr Benyon initially sought $15,000 from the council for the project, which will include a flag pole and a wall listing all Australian VC recipients.

In December councillors rejected staff advice to give $10,000 and offered $3000 — just 2 per cent of the $150,000 total cost.

Mr Benyon has told the council he has declined the offer and would fund the project.

He wouldn’t comment when contacted yesterday.

But Mr Benyon last year had described the project as having “significant public benefit”.

“There is the added benefit of this public art installation not resulting in any ongoing long term commitment from council,” he said in a letter.

“The approved sculpture and associated garden bed will be located on private property and will be privately maintained to a high standard.

“The proposal will not only represent a far more fitting reminder of (Captain Borella’s) heroics, but will also encourage further interest in and visitation of the city environs.”

Mr Benyon also felt the monument was in line with council’s urban and public art strategy which makes a strong case for encouraging private businesses to commission public art.

Captain Borella, who lived in Albury from 1946 to 1968, is Albury’s only VC recipient.

His achievements are featured in an impressive display at Cafe Borellas unveiled by Keith Payne VC in 2011.

Albury RSL president and city councillor Graham Docksey had assisted Mr Benyon in the project for a monument and declared a conflict of interest when the council debated the financial contribution late last year.

Cr David Thurley proposed the $3000 amount and was supported by Cr Daryl Betteridge.

Cr Alice Glachan pushed for the $10,000 contribution and was backed by Cr Patricia Gould and Cr Ross Jackson.

The monument will replace a brick memorial at the location. Council had originally intended spending $3000 to replacement memorial.