The Nationals leader and Member for Murray Plains, Peter Walsh, says it is time for the Andrews Labor Government to come clean on why it ruined Anzac Day for the state’s veterans and their families – for the second year running.
Mr Walsh said during this week’s parliamentary hearings on the State Budget, the Nationals had directly asked Victoria’s Veterans Minister Shaun Leane to explain his decision to severely limit attendance at the 2021 Anzac Day services.
He said the disdain with which the Andrews Labor Government treated our veterans was made glaringly obvious when Mr Leane could only offer a bumbling and confused response.
“Mr Leane only has one major responsibility – to care for our veterans and their families – yet he simply could not say why he did not advocate for more than 1400 peole to be allowed to attend this year’s Anzac Day Dawn Service,” Mr Walsh said.
“That was a decision that deeply offended Victoria’s veteran community – and the wider Victorian community that is so supportive of them,” he said.
“At the same time, the Andrews Labor Government was advocating for more than 75,000 to attend the MCG – on the same day.
“There is less than 2km between these sites; but were worlds apart in how the chaotic excuse for government treated them.”
Mr Walsh said in a rambling response to the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee (PAEC), the Minister wasted seven minutes attempting to quote what the restrictions were in other states – and got that wrong as well.
He claimed only 400 people were allowed to attend the Dawn Service in Sydney, when in fact the permitted number was 5000.
“The Dawn Service limits left so many veterans and their families locked out, forced to peer through erected fences or separated from the battalions they march with every year,” Mr Walsh added.
“You have to wonder about this Government’s priorities and commitment to veterans when they are out in the media calling for 100,000 at the MCG on Anzac Day; but are silent on the Dawn Service.
“The Minster’s lack of advocacy on this topic left many veterans and veterans groups dumfounded. They are both outdoor events, on the same day in the same area,” he said.
“Their silence was deafening and when asked for an explanation, the Minister had nothing. Our veterans deserved at least an answer but in the finest traditions of the Andrews Labor Government the best he had to offer was another ‘I don’t remember’.”