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Thursday, 16 August 2012
Page: 5702

Western Front

(Question No. 1892)


Senator Ronaldson asked the Minister representing the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs upon notice on 19 June 2012.

(1) Will the Government work with French and other European authorities to accredit travel providers offering travel packages to the ‘Western Front’ for significant commemorations between July 2016 and November 2018; if so, how?

(2) What advice does the Government currently provide to Australians wishing to travel to Europe between 2016 and 2018, particularly the ‘Western Front’, in regard to travel planning?

(3) What constraints on attendance have been considered in relation to significant commemoration sites across northern France in advance of World War One centenary commemorations, in particular, will the Government be required to limit attendance at significant commemoration sites such as Villers-Brettoneux (sic) or the Menin Gate?


Senator Bob Carr: The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable Senator’s question:

(1) There is a broader issue to be discussed between the governments of Australia, Belgium and France about the numbers of visitors wishing to attend Great War centenary commemorations on the Western Front between July 2016 and November 2018. Resolution of this issue will not revolve around accreditation of tour operators, many of whom are based in the United Kingdom.

The Government will assess all options in consultation with our French and Belgian counterparts and provide advice as required to tour operators and the public on the final outcome of these deliberations.

(2) The Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) provides information to assist visitors with their planning and preparation to attend annual Anzac Day services at Villers-Bretonneux and Bullecourt, France. Information is provided to visitors on the DVA website at:

http://www.dva.gov.au/commems_oawg/commemorations/commemorative_events/anzac_day/Pages/france.aspx

DVA will enlarge this advice to include details of arrangements for the period between 2016 and 2018, including the centenary of the Battle of Villers-Bretonneux on Anzac Day 2018, once decisions have been made about managing the anticipated demand to attend services.

(3) The Government conducts two services on Anzac Day in northern France - the Dawn Service at the Australian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux and the Anzac Day Wreath Laying Service at the Digger Memorial, Bullecourt. The Government also assists with the locally organised Anzac Day services in the villages of Villers-Bretonneux and Bullecourt. In Belgium, the Government organises a number of Australian services on Anzac Day at commemorative sites around Ypres, and participates in the locally organised evening service at the Menin Gate.

The Government is currently considering the anticipated demand to attend services at the Australian National Memorial for the Anzac Centenary in 2015 and the centenary of the Battle of Villers-Bretonneux in 2018. The 2012-13 Budget provided $14.4 million to safely and effectively manage the increased demand to attend overseas commemorative services during the Anzac Centenary.