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Previous Ministers' releases and speeches - 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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Friday, 4 April 2014
MINVA021

TRANSCRIPT OF INTERVIEW WITH MICHAEL SMYTH
ABC ADELAIDE DRIVE

Topics: Conclusion of Anzac Centenary Ballot

MICHAEL SMYTH: Michael Ronaldson who is the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC. Senator, welcome.

MICHAEL RONALDSON: Good afternoon, Michael.

PRESENTER: A lot of people around Australia who have been lucky like Daphne would be particularly pleased that they’re heading off to Turkey next year. How difficult has this process been to manage?

MINISTER: Yes I just heard the tail end of your interview and I could sense the great excitement in Daphne’s voice so that’s terrific.

Look, not everyone will know today. Those with email addresses in the general category would know but others will be waiting for letters no doubt.

There were nearly 42,500 Australians who put their names in for the ballot and close to 8000 New Zealanders so it was a fantastic response. Just very quickly there were 400 double passes for direct descendants; 400 double passes for those who were veterans, those who served overseas with qualifying service and 3000 double passes in the general category and on top of that I also wrote several months ago to about 160 widows of First World War veterans who of course themselves aren’t alive but 160 widows who are and extended an invitation to them to attend the service. They’ll be guests of the Australian Government, the Australian people, and I think some will take up the offer Michael which I am very excited about.

PRESENTER: And as I understand it Senator, Australians of all ages will effectively be going, from 16 through to 99. How have you ensured that there has been a good generational representation if you will?

MINISTER: It was not specifically designed that way Michael. The Turkish Government had made it quite clear by the middle of last year if not a touch earlier that they viewed ten and half thousand as the maximum numbers could attend.

So on the back of that the former government and the New Zealand Government went about the process of a ballot which they designed.

When I was sworn in as the Minister I made some changes to it, I wasn’t comfortable that the process was right. It needed to be right, it needed to be fair.

So it opened in about the middle of November, closed at the end of January and the ballot has taken place today.

PRESENTER: Daphne earlier was explaining there the sort of paperwork she needed to provide to ensure that she was indeed a direct descendant and all the rest of it. Given the popularity of this, given that 42 000 people applied for the places available, how do you manage it from here to ensure that those people who have been awarded tickets use them personally and they’re not somehow sold or moved on the black market, that sort of thing?

MINISTER: I can assure you, Michael, that there will be, this will be a scalper free zone.

We’re absolutely adamant about this. Those who receive a ticket will have to have their travel arrangements and their passport applied for and delivered within six months. We’ll be checking all those details. And no one will be able to get on to the site without their passport and their ticket.

Because of the huge numbers, and we were overwhelmed to be honest with you, I think that’s a reflection on how important people see the forthcoming commemorative period. I want to make sure there isn’t a spare seat there so people who can’t meet that six month requirement, which we think is fair, their place will go to someone on the waiting list.

I don’t want to see a spare seat there and I’m going to ensure there’s no one sitting there that isn’t entitled to be there.

PRESENTER: Senator, thank you so much for joining us on Drive. We appreciate it.

MINISTER: Thankyou, Michael.

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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