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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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Thursday, 3 April 2014
MINVA020

TRANSCRIPT OF INTERVIEW WITH TOM ELLIOT
DRIVE - 3AW MELBOURNE

Topics: Closure of Gallipoli ballot

TOM ELLIOT: Now as we know next year is of course the 100th anniversary of the landings at Gallipoli and the Turkish government, I must admit say to it’s infinite credit is allowing both Australia and New Zealand to make a lot of this 100 year anniversary. There was a public ballot held several months ago to determine who would actually get tickets to go to this event. Many more people wanted to go than could go. Joining me on the line now is the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC, Senator Michael Ronaldson. Senator Ronaldson, good evening.

MICHAEL RONALDSON: Hello Tom.

PRESENTER: How many people have got tickets for the Centenary?

MINISTER: Well there’s ten and a half thousand tickets which is eight thousand for ourselves, two thousand for the Kiwis and there’s five hundred official invitations which we anticipate 250 will be for the Turkish government and we expect people from around the world as well to come out of that 500. There was three categories for ourselves Tom. There was a direct descendant category which I think will be in the main filled with the sons and daughters of those who were in Gallipoli then, which is remarkable. There’s 400 double passes for veterans – those who’ve served overseas and there’s 3000 in the general public so 3000 double passes. Now everyone who provided an email address to us will know now whether they will receive a ticket. For those who don’t have an email address I’ll be writing to everyone.

PRESENTER: Okay so 3000 double passes, is that 6000 to come out of the 8000 or is that…

MINISTER: Yeah, that is.

PRESENTER: Right.

MINISTER: There’s 8000 all up. Now out of the 500, there’s not a great mob of pollies going. There are four politicians, the Prime Minister, of course as appropriate. The Leader of the Opposition as appropriate, myself and the Shadow Veterans Affairs Minister, they’ll be the only members of Parliament there as part of the official government delegation. And remarkably there are about 160 widows of those First World War veterans. I’ve written to all those ladies, I’ve had responses from a number of them and the Australian government will be providing and paying for them to travel to Gallipoli if they’d like to do so. It’s extraordinary – there’s 160 of these ladies still alive.

PRESENTER: That is astonishing. I mean obviously there is no one left alive who, no men left alive who are physically present at the ANZAC day landings.

MINISTER: No.

PRESENTER: I’m guessing these women were obviously a bit younger than their husbands?

MINISTER: Ah yes, well I’m not going to reflect on that Tom, but I think it’s probably a fair guess.

PRESENTER: Okay.

MINISTER: And probably considerably younger I would think.

PRESENTER: With the general category, how many people applied versus obviously received tickets?

MINISTER: Well all up there was about 42,500 Australians that applied and around about 10,000 New Zealanders. So, it was an overwhelming response and I think it’s a fair indication of how important people view next year, in fact the whole of the centenary commemorative period. Not just for Gallipoli, not just for the Western Front but indeed on the back of quite extraordinary sacrifice over the last hundred years. And the Prime Minister and I are as one that we will be commemorating that sacrifice of all people who have served and not just the First World War.

PRESENTER: Finally, if one of the lucky ticket winners can’t go for whatever reason, what happens to their ticket? Can they pass it on to a family member or does it go back into a ballot?

MINISTER: No it goes back into the pool and on the application people had to tick a box to see if they wanted to be on a waiting list and so people have actually got six months to get their passports sorted out, to get their tickets sorted out and if they can’t do that, then their place will go to the next person on the waiting list. We are determined not to have vacant seats there Tom, as you’ll appreciate there’s a lot of people who are very anxious to get there and we want to make sure that the chance of doing so is maximised. Just out of interest, we’ve just finished negotiating with the Turkish government an arrangement whereby we’ll also have another service at Lone Pine on the 6th of August which obviously won’t be the nature and extent of the ANZAC day one but there will be lots of opportunities for people to go there or go to Villers-Bretonneux or indeed go to many commemorative events throughout Australia.

PRESENTER: Senator Michael Ronaldson thank you very much for your time.

MINISTER: Thanks, Tom.

PRESENTER: Senator Ronaldson there, the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC and he’s one of just four politicians the others being the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition so that’s Tony Abbott and Bill Shorten. Minister for Veterans Affairs and Senator Ronaldson plus 8000 Australians, 2000 Kiwis and 500 others to the dawn service. 100 years since

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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