Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
RSL sparks controversy with Anzac parade chan -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

TONY JONES, PRESENTER: Anzac Day commemorates the sacrifices of those who served in all wars, and
although the number of veterans is dwindling, the popularity of the Anzac Day march is growing.

It's a tradition for many families of war veterans to join the march, but now the Victorian RSL is
demanding that World War II veterans ride in cars and that family members follow behind.

The RSL says the changes are about making it safer for elderly veterans, but some families are
offended by being separated.

From Melbourne, Hamish Fitzsimmons reports.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS, REPORTER: Age shall not weary them, but Victoria's RSL chief thinks they need a
bit of a hand.

DAVID MCLACHLAN, VICTORIAN RSL PRESIDENT: They are incredibly proud people, somewhat stubborn at
times, but they believe that they can do it. And it's not until they actually subject themselves to
the length of the march, which they didn't want to change a couple of years ago, and they get to
the stage where they're going up to the shrine itself and they have to climb the steps and many of
them are incredibly distressed.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: This Anzac Day, the RSL wants older veterans to use cars rather than march and
any family members wanting to take part will follow, breaking a tradition where relatives once
stepped alongside the marching diggers.

DAVID MCLACHLAN: We did allow a grandson to march with his granddad on Anzac Day and there was no
problem, but it's got to the stage where now in lots of cases there are many more families and
members marching than there are veterans.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Melbourne's Lord Mayor agrees the safety of the old diggers should be first and
foremost.

ROBERT DOYLE, MELBOURNE LORD MAYOR: I've seen them over the sort of, you know, 16 or 17 years that
I've been doing that march, I've seen them get more frail of course, and I worry that one day we
are going to have, you know, a terrible problem with someone who isn't just injured, but perhaps
who dies, and that would just be awful.

TED BAILLIEU, VICTORIAN PREMIER: It's a matter for the RSL to organise the march. I think
Victorians appreciate it. I believe there's a role for the family. I believe the RSL thinks that as
well. They're trying to manage it in the best way they possibly can.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: However, among some veterans and their families there's a sense of betrayal
over the planned changes.

NICHOLAS WALSH, WWII VETERAN: We do not agree with abolishing the march. We march not for public
pleasure, we march to sink and relieve in our boys that we lost. That's why we march.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Nicholas Walsh fought with the 2nd Division for four months on the Kokoda Track
in 1942 and sees Anzac Day as a time when families should be allowed to march with veterans. And a
broken hip two months before last year's march didn't stop him from joining the four remaining
members of his unit.

NICHOLAS WALSH: When it comes to Anzac Day, we do get together. We don't - in the old days when
we'd get together after 1950, 1960s, we'd have a few beers and that and now we don't bother.

Haven't for years. But we still get together, the few of us that are left, and just enjoy each
other's company.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Mr Walsh's grandson Toby has marched with his grandfather for the last five
years and he's disappointed he won't be at his side this year. But he concedes young people's
enthusiasm for Anzac Day has drawn attention away from what the day represents.

TOBY WALLACE, GRANDSON OF VETERAN: It's becoming too many people, too much attention away from the
veterans, and also it's not a spectacle or a celebration, it's actually a mournful walk for memory.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: The national RSL says it's up to individual branches to decide what best suits
them for their marches, and that it backs Victoria's decision.

Hamish Fitzsimmons, Lateline.