Member for Murray Plains Peter Walsh says the RSL deserves it, the veterans have demanded it, Canberra has agreed with them and the public are appalled.
Mr Walsh said taking a page straight out of the Daniel ‘I don’t care what you think’ Andrews playbook, acting Premier James Merlino is determined to jam 100,000 people into the MCG for the Anzac Day classic between Essendon and Collingwood.
And said he will do that while blithely ignoring the men and women the game is all about – those who have fought and died for their country – by insisting it would only be safe for 1400 of them to attend the Melbourne Dawn Service at the Shrine of Remembrance.
“Yes, you read it right – 1400,” Mr Walsh added.
“I cannot begin to even think how much this travesty will impact our thousands and thousands of veterans, their families and the wider community,” he said.
“I would not have thought the Andrews/Merlino government could make decisions more damning than some of its most recent COVID-19 shockers; but they have proved me wrong.
“It was bad enough when they approved 75,000 for the MCG and basically told the RSL and our veterans to get lost – but now they are making sure their disdain gets hammered home.”
Mr Walsh said this decision has not just ruined Anzac Day for people in Melbourne, the ripple effect in country Victoria has been just as damaging.
He said many services have been cancelled because no-one could work out what Andrews/Merlino might do next.
“Today I have learnt Mark Gepp, the Labor Upper House member for Northern Victoria, has the gall, the arrogance, to plan to turn up at one of the few Services in Murray Plains that will go ahead. If he had an ounce of decency in him he would contact that sub-branch and wish them every success with their day and excuse himself from coming to rub salt into the RSL wounds,” Mr Walsh said.
“I have had RSL sub-branch after sub-branch contact me in recent weeks desperate for a straight answer on what they could, and couldn’t do. But we couldn’t help them because the Andrews/Merlino government had literally slammed the door in their faces,” he said.
“It has been my privilege for many years to attend events across Murray Plains; and I will be there again this Sunday. Just not at as many events because they aren’t being held.
“For me the ultimate disgrace for this disgraceful excuse of a government would be fronting the family of one of our few remaining World War II veterans who cannot attend the 2021 Dawn Service or March and then finding out that heroic link with our past did not survive for the 2022 event.
“I challenge Andrews/Merlino to tell us all how they would justify that.
“Probably by rolling out their ‘best medical advice’ excuse from the most secret medical advisory in the world, the one none of us are allowed to know who is on it and what their expertise is.
“Lest we forget.”