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Anzac Day at Long Tan.

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Anzac Day at Long Tan

Anzac Day is sacred to all Australians. Neither I nor anyone from my office has spoken to or had conversation with anyone whatsoever about requesting the changing of the dawn service time at Long Tan in Vietnam or anywhere else.

It has been reported in some of today’s newspapers that I requested a “fake” dawn service to be held in Long Tan in Vietnam. That statement is absolutely false and without foundation.

It is also reported my office was involved in hatching this plan for a “fake dawn service” several weeks ago. This statement is also absolutely false and without foundation.

The newspapers go on to report that staff from my office had also been involved in negotiations with Vietnamese authorities to conduct an earlier service on that day. This is also absolutely false and without foundation.

The truth is that some months ago, Channel Seven Sunrise invited Employment Minister Joe Hockey and myself (both of us being regular guests on Sunrise) to participate in an Anzac Day service at Long Tan in Vietnam.

My understanding is that Mr Hockey subsequently withdrew and his place was to be taken by Liberal MP Bronwyn Bishop. My office had indicated to Sunrise my support for travelling to Long Tan -- although no final decision had been taken on my part to attend.

At no stage had neither I nor my staff requested Channel Seven Sunrise to organise any “fake” dawn service. In fact, neither I nor my staff had made any request to Channel Seven or to anybody else about the timing of any services to be held in Long Tan on Anzac Day.

At no stage have I or my staff had any contact with Vietnamese authorities concerning the timing of Anzac Day services at Long Tan this year.

Because neither my office nor myself have had involvement whatsoever in any negotiations over the timing and broadcast of Anzac Day services, I am advised that when a journalist approached my office yesterday, my office indicated that they should speak to Channel Seven Sunrise as this was a matter for Channel Seven Sunrise.

I also understand Channel Seven Sunrise have now issued their own statement on the matter.

Vietnam veterans and their families would be justifiably outraged if the traditions of Anzac Day were anyway being undermined at Long Tan - or anywhere else - on a day which is sacred to all Australians.

Sunshine Coast

8 April 2007 Lachlan Harris 0417 592 338