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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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Monday, 3 February 2014
MINVA006

TRANSCRIPT OF INTERVIEW WITH MARK PARTON
BREAKFAST – 2CC CANBERRA

Topics: Centenary of ANZAC ballot closure.

MARK PARTON: Well, here we are, the third day of Feb, so we're already what, one-twelfth into 2014. It won't be long 2015 will be here and the big centenary Anzac celebrations. 42,582 applications, I can tell you, were received from Australians planning to attend the Dawn Service at Gallipoli in 2015. It will mark 100 years since the landing of Australian and New Zealand troops during the first World War.

The minister assisting the Prime Minister for Centenary of Anzac is Senator Michael Ronaldson, and he said that the Government's contracted ticket provider would now begin the process of confirming applications.

We've got Senator Ronaldson on the line right now.

Good morning, sir.

MICHAEL RONALDSON: Morning, Mark.

MARK PARTON: Did you expect a number like 42,000 in the end?

MINISTER: No. It's been a fantastic response and this really has ignited extraordinary excitement right around the country.

MARK PARTON: So that number of 42,000 will be whittled down to how many?

MINISTER: Well, at the moment they will go through the process of sorting out those applications that haven't been completed or double applications, so there'll be some work. That's the raw number. We don't know how many would be the final number. So that process will take place and then there will be a ballot draw which would take place prior to Anzac Day this year, and then people will be notified prior to Anzac Day.

MARK PARTON: Now, this is a very, very complex process, isn't it? Because it's done basically on a tier system in that there are some preferences that are given for direct descendants and veterans with qualifying or overseas service.

MINISTER: Yes, indeed. So there's 8000 passes for Australians and there's 2000 for our Kiwi cousins. There's 400 double passes for direct descendants with preference to sons and daughters, then there's 400 double passes for, as you say, veterans with qualifying service or served overseas, then there's 3000 in the general category. There's also, Mark, 200 double passes for school children from right around the country, and the states will be working out who that's going to be. So it'll be in proportion to the states.

But remarkably, there's 160 widows of World War I veterans still alive.

MARK PARTON: Wow.

MINISTER: It's amazing, isn't it?

MARK PARTON: Isn't it?

MINISTER: On behalf of the Prime Minister I've written to those ladies and invited them to participate if they'd like to do so. Now, we will be - the Commonwealth will be paying for any of those ladies who can make the trip and everyone else will be paying for themselves.

MARK PARTON: That's, of course, one of the things that had to be made clear time and time again during this process, because I know there were some people that had the belief that somehow if they were successful in the ballot that you'd fly them over there.

MINISTER: Yes. There were some, Mark, but you're quite right. We made that quite clear that was impossible. People have got to get across there under their own steam. Mark, I had a couple of questions the other weekend which I thought you might find of interest. The first is about whether this will be a scalper's delight? Well, it most certainly will not. We've got processes in place to ensure that that doesn't happen and, in fact, no one will be able to get onto the site next year without their pass and also their passport.

MARK PARTON: Right. Okay.

MINISTER: So the last thing I want is scalpers wrecking this. The other question was whether this is going to be full of pollies and the Prime Minister's made it quite clear that it won't be. There'll be four members of parliament from around the country. It'll be Prime Minister, myself, Leader of the Opposition, and the Shadow Minister. There'll be no premiers or anyone else. We want to make sure that the Australian community have the best chance of getting a ticket.

MARK PARTON: And a lot of work to be done between now and Anzac this year, because that's when people will find out whether they've been successful, despite all the work that's gone into this, despite how complex the system is, I know that out of it there'll be some hard luck stories and I can see you guys getting hammered still in the press, because there'll be someone that's missed out who, according to some editor somewhere, should have gone.

MINISTER: Yeah. Look, Mark, we're aware of this. I mean, I had an email from a gentlemen over the weekend and he said, look, if I miss out I'll be really disappointed, but I would have been more disappointed if I didn't have the chance to get in for the ballot. And I think that's probably right.

I mean, there's still not bad odds, as you'll appreciate, and there are a limited number of places. That's been determined by our very generous Turkish hosts. We've got to remember that it's another country we're visiting, so we've always got to be mindful of that, and the Turks are very, very generous hosts and we respect whatever restraints they put on numbers.

MARK PARTON: Michael, thanks for your time this morning. Appreciate it.

MINISTER: Thanks, Mark. Thank you.

MARK PARTON: Senator Michael Ronaldson, who is the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister, for the Centenary of ANZAC.
If you're in the ballot and you want to - you know, get on the phone and talk to us. How will you feel if, indeed, you win a spot or if you miss out? 62-55-12-06. I know we will have hundreds, if not thousands, in this town who have had a crack at this. 42,000 applications in total. There will be quite a number from here in the ACT.

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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