Acting Premier James Merlino and his sidekick, Veterans Minister Shaun Leane, need to explain why they have put football crowds before our veteran community.
It’s been confirmed the Andrews Labor Government has rubber-stamped crowds of 85,000 footy fans at the MCG on ANZAC Day, but despite this the Government is still clamping down on gatherings at the Shrine of Remembrance honouring our veterans.
On the weekend, the MCG will be allowed to host the biggest crowd of any sport in the world since the pandemic hit, but less than two kilometres away just 1400 are allowed to pay their respects at the dawn service while the traditional ANZAC Day march will be limited to 8000.
Attendance at the dawn service reached capacity within hours of going online.
Shadow Minister for Veterans Affairs Tim Bull said this comes weeks after 8000 were allowed to attend a dance festival on the Mornington Peninsula.
“How can the Andrews Government say yes to 8000 people dancing and partying at close quarters and 85,000 screaming football fans jumping over each other – but just 1400 at the solemn dawn service,” Mr Bull said.
“Mr Merlino, by his own admission, worked hard to have the crowd increased at the MCG, all while abandoning the dawn service, with no advocacy to better cater for veterans and their families.
“This is the most important day on the calendar for so many, for the right to pay respects to those who have served this country and the many who have made the ultimate sacrifice.”
In Queensland, ANZAC Day services won’t be capped.
Responding to reports earlier last week that the capacity for the march had not been reached, Mr Bull said the Andrews Labor Government’s restrictions were turning people away.
“Veterans have openly stated they will not register for the right to march and many who would normally march (family members of veterans etc) have been turned away with places reserved for veterans only,” Mr Bull said.
“If the Andrews Labor Government afforded the same respect to veterans as football fans and lifted the crowd cap and removed the need to pre-register, I have no doubt we will get the 25,000 to 30,000 that turn out for the march each year.
“When just a few hours later a world-record breaking crowd of screaming fans will be jumping over each other in the one venue, our veteran community should not be prevented from taking part in ANZAC Day.”