What manner of bureaucratic madness is this?
Veterans and volunteers planning this year’s Anzac Day marches have been told by multiple Sydney councils and road authorities they will have to pay for the privilege.
And these will be no token amounts. We are talking about many thousands of dollars — just to march on Anzac Day.
Members of the Mascot RSL sub-branch face a near-$5000 charge if they go ahead with their annual march.
“We’ve been marching for decades here,” Mascot RSL secretary Carolyn McMahon told The Daily Telegraph.
“It’s the 100th anniversary of our Mascot branch this year and we’ve never been charged.
“When the council rang to say the transport authorities want to charge us almost $5000 this year I was so upset. I couldn’t believe it.
“How can you do that to the vets? To go a couple of blocks?”
Those are very good questions. Surely tradition and honour count for far more than whatever it costs to manage a simple ceremonial march. As well, the money to distance ratio seems hugely out of kilter.
The same sort of thing is happening in other Sydney suburbs. Across Sutherland Shire, diggers and community volunteers have been told by the local council they have to cover “traffic management plans” for April 25’s dawn services.
The fees? Up to $4000.
One RSL sub-branch secretary makes the very good point that at 5am there is usually very little traffic to manage. These fees appear to be paying for services not required.
And here’s another very good point, from former serviceman and Campbelltown MP Greg Warren: “It’s a sad day when ex-servicemen have to pay to march on the very land they served to protect.”
That gets to the heart of the matter. Anzac Day commemorations are not a commercial events nor are they street parties. They are solemn occasions when all Australians reflect on the losses that built this country.
“You can’t put a price on the sacrifice and service of our veterans,” furious Heffron MP Ron Hoenig said. “What is this country coming to?”
Again, that is an excellent question. Apparently it is coming to the point where the very essence of Australia now has a council fee attached to it.
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