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Previous Ministers' releases and speeches - Senator The Hon. Michael Ronaldson

Senator the Hon. Michael Ronaldson
Minister for Veterans' Affairs
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC
Special Minister of State

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Tuesday, 1 April 2014
MINVA019

TRANSCRIPT OF INTERVIEW WITHANGELA CATTERNS
MORNINGS- 2UE SYDNEY

Topics: Ballot for the Gallipoli dawn service in 2015

ANGELA CATTERNS: Now, I thought that the ballot was going to be held on Monday to determine who is allowed to go to Gallipoli for the Anzac Day service next year for the centenary of the landing at Gallipoli, but that doesn't seem to have been the case.

We're joined now by Michael Ronaldson. He's the Minister for Veteran Affairs.

Minister, good morning. Welcome.

MINISTER RONALDSON: Morning, Angela.

ANGELA CATTERNS: So I think there's some confusion. Was the ballot not held on Monday?

MINISTER: No. What I said in February was that we hoped to have it around 31 March. We hope to do it sometime this week. Angela, we're just waiting for a small number of veterans to verify their eligibility before the next stage of the ballot process that goes on and they've got until today to do that and I imagine we'll have the ballot this week.

ANGELA CATTERNS: I see.

MINISTER: I didn't want to go ahead until those veterans had the opportunity to verify their details.

ANGELA CATTERNS: I see. So the veterans sort of RSVP first and then it's open to the public.

MINISTER: Not to RSVP but to get their service details. As I said, it was always going to be on or around the 31st and it will be this week, there's no issues with it and it's been overseen by KPMG so the process - I said from day one I wanted this process to be absolutely fair to everyone and we're making sure of that.

ANGELA CATTERNS: How many people have applied to be in the ballot, Minister?

MINISTER: Nearly 42,500...

ANGELA CATTERNS: …42,000…

MINISTER: …yeah, it's a remarkable number. It opened in November, closed the end of January, so it is a huge process and I want it done properly. I actually delayed - after the election - I delayed the opening of the ballot because I wasn't happy that the appropriate processes were in place. So I'm very much looking forward. It'll be today or tomorrow depending on a couple of these veterans and then I'll notify everyone in writing from the end of this week.

ANGELA CATTERNS: I see. 42...

MINISTER: … but the good news is Angela, is that we've just made arrangements with the Turkish Government, on 6 August next year, we'll be having a ceremony at Lone Pine as well. So for people who miss out on the ballot, there'll be lots of opportunities obviously with commemorative events around the country, or if people are travelling then Villers-Bretonneux, London and other places there'll be big ceremonies, but the Lone Pine on 6 August next year is another opportunity which I'm very, very pleased about.

ANGELA CATTERNS: 42,500 names is a lot of names to cram into a hat, Minister.

MINISTER: [Laughs] Yes.

ANGELA CATTERNS: How are you going to draw the names?

MINISTER: It is a quite formal ballot process and there's a cascading process, Angela. There's 400 double passes for direct descendants, then there's 400 double passes for veterans, and then there's 3000 double passes for people in the general public ategory. So look, I know there's a great deal of expectation. A lot of people are very, very much hoping they can get to next year. It'll be a fantastic ceremony.

I would love to have all 42,000 there, but it's just simply not possible for safety and other reasons. That's why the Turkish Government imposed a 10,500 person limit on it and the Kiwis have 2000, we've got 8000, and there's about 500 official passes, which will predominantly be for Turkish Government officials. There's only four Australian parliamentarians going. The Prime Minister himself was adamant that it would not be a poli-trip, and so there'll be the Prime Minister, as appropriate, the Leader of the
Opposition, myself, and my counterpart, and they're the only four politicians or premiers or mayors going.

ANGELA CATTERNS: And so, Minister, presumably this is an electronic kind of ballot.

MINISTER: It is, yes it is.

ANGELA CATTERNS: It is. And so you will be informing those who have been successful. Will you also inform those who haven't?

MINISTER: Absolutely. I'll be writing to everyone. Look, Ticketek is running this process and they're a very professional outfit and I'm confident that the process is right and fair, oversighted by KPMG. But I will be letting everyone know, both those who do and those who don't.

ANGELA CATTERNS: Alright. And so if my name is in the ballot, I'd be expecting to hear perhaps today or tomorrow?

MINISTER: Well, I hope to get letters out to people from the end of the week.

ANGELA CATTERNS: By the end of the week. Alright.

MINISTER: We've got the ballot, obviously, and then the letters will go out after that. But again, it'll depend on this handful of veterans getting information to the department, so whether it's today or tomorrow, I'm confident that we'll have the ballot done hopefully in the next 48 hours.

ANGELA CATTERNS: And then they've got - assuming that your name is pulled out of the ballot and you are successful, then you've got to organise your travel plans and advise you of those, don't you?

MINISTER: indeed, yes. We want to make sure that everyone who has put their name down and is drawn in the ballot is going to
go, because there will be a very substantial waiting list and we want those people on the waiting list to have the best opportunity to go if someone pulls out. So people have six months to get their travel details and passports, et cetera, to the department to confirm that they can go, and if they can't go then we'll give those positions to someone on the waiting list, which is fair.

ANGELA CATTERNS: Yeah. Alright. Good on you. Thank you for talking to us this morning.

MINISTER: Okay, terrific. Thanks, Angela.

ANGELA CATTERNS: All the best. That's the Minister for Veteran Affairs, Michael Ronaldson.

 

Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) and Veterans Line can be reached 24 hours a day across Australia for crisis support and free and confidential counselling. Phone 1800 011 046

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