- ANZAC Day security boosted -
Unprecedented security will accompany servicemen and women taking part in ANZAC Day parades throughout Queensland because of fears anti-war protesters could disrupt the annual ceremonies.
Organisers, concerned for the safety of April 25 marchers after a string of violent protests around the country, are liaising with police at a level never before seen.
Marchers in a typical ANZAC Day march
The move to increase security follows an aborted navy cadet parade in Brisbane last weekend for fear of flare-ups with anti-war hecklers.
A Royal Australian Air Force march down George St was also cancelled last Sunday and a low-key service held at the Queens Park RAAF memorial instead.
Queensland RSL president John Burgess said police numbers would be boosted "significantly" in all major centres for ANZAC Day. Police chiefs confirmed they were in discussions with the RSL and promised "an appropriate policing response at all marches to ensure they proceed smoothly".
Mr Burgess said: "I understand there has been talk of threats floating around but I think anyone who tried something stupid would be hung, drawn and quartered by the public if they laid a finger on a veteran.
"We won`t be intimidated by this ignorant, ratbag element."
National Servicemen`s Association southern branch president and former RAAF serviceman Robert Cotter said veterans were "bitterly disappointed" at the cancelled RAAF march last Sunday.
"We don`t parade down the street for glory or for ourselves, we march for those who can`t because they didn`t make it home from war," he said.
Outspoken Vietnam veteran and former ABC TV Bush Tucker Man Les Hiddins said marchers should strike back if they were manhandled by demonstrators.
"I think we`ve got nothing to hang our heads about. If these sick people physically touch them, the vets have every right to fight back," he said.
"ANZAC Day isn`t about glorifying war, but these sad, sick people wouldn`t know the difference. They just want a confrontation and their 15 minutes of fame." Ross Daniels from the Queensland Peace Network yesterday dismissed the possibility of disruptions to ANZAC Day:
"There is no plan by anyone associated with the Queensland Peace Network to disrupt ANZAC Day and we find it quite insulting that anyone would suggest this."
Premier Peter Beattie said he was unaware of any planned ANZAC Day protests but assured RSL members he would liaise with the police commissioner and police minister to ensure marches went ahead without interruption.
Mr Beattie, who is also patron of the ANZAC Day March Committee, said he believed "99.9 percent" of people who had already protested against Australia`s involvement in Iraq would not dream of interfering with the parade.
"Most people are very supportive of men and women in the defence force," he said.
The RSL has endorsed a TV commercial, due in two weeks, to promote goodwill towards veterans and encourage the public to attend ANZAC Day services.
Meanwhile, the Foreign Affairs department has upgraded its advice to Australians travelling to Turkey for ANZAC Day ceremonies at Gallipoli this year.
A new travel advisory has raised the threat level slightly, advising visitors to Turkey, which shares a border with war-torn northern Iraq, to exercise a "high degree of caution".
Click here to read the latest travel advice for Turkey and ANZAC Day:
Travel Information Update 07.04.2003
Click here to read the statement of Foreign Minister Mr Alexander Downer:
Aussies given green light for Gallipoli pilgrimage
by Sunday Mail
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