A Blue Mountains council has backed down on its refusal to pay security costs for Anzac Day marches which would otherwise have to have been cancelled, and state police say they are committed to making the parades happen.
At least four memorial marches in the Blue Mountains region were reportedly cancelled because the local council could not afford expensive security measures required by new state government regulations. The requirements, introduced in response to recent terror incidents overseas, include extra bollards and barriers to prevent attacks using vehicles, such as the attack in Nice.
The Blue Mountains council said it could not afford to stump up the thousands of dollars needed for the new measures, and said it had to cancel the Anzac Day marches. The NSW government said it had offered to pay half the costs of the march, and a spokesperson for police minister Troy Grant slammed the council, telling the ABC "it is perplexing that the Blue Mountains City Council can afford a $130,000 campaign opposing Badgerys Creek airport, yet it cannot afford to honour our veterans".
However, as the ABC reported, Blue Mountains mayor Mark Greenhill later said his council would provide funds and council resources to make the march happen. In a statement on Facebook, the council said it would meet the "crippling costs" of extra security, which it said was "unreasonable" and "should not be the role of local councils".
"Council will again support the local RSL branches as best it can, within available resources, to ensure the ANZAC Day marches have the best chance of going ahead in 2017," the council said.
"Council is waiting to verify the NSW Government's offer to contribute to the ever increasing costs... We are not sure why these security measures are not required in other locations at this point in time, but this is what we have been told."
NSW Police say they are committed to making the marches happen, saying they will work with the local council and do "everything" they can to see the marches go ahead.
"For many years I have been part of the ANZAC Day Ceremonies across Sydney and I am extremely disappointed to hear reports that some areas may not go ahead with their regular marches this year," said North West Metropolitan Region Commander, Assistant Commissioner Denis Clifford.
"As such, I've called for a meeting early next week with all parties involved in organising the Blue Mountains marches to attempt to resolve the situation and ensure this important day of commemoration is not affected."
Clifford assured NSW residents that police had no information about threats to Anzac Day marches.
"I understand the concerns about the environment we currently live in, but I would like to assure all the veterans, their relatives and concerned members of the public that we are not aware of any specific threat to Anzac Day marches," he said.
Earlier, there was outrage over the planned cancellations.
"The terrorists are winning. I say that because the reaction to events overseas continue to provoke over-reactions here," said David White, director of Katoomba RSL, according to Fairfax Media.
"We are devastated that we have had to take this action because it's such a long, unbroken tradition and something which we believe is cherished by the local communities."
The public outcry over the planned cancellation of the marches was swift, with many criticising the state government for requiring local councils to pay the bill for extra security:
Australian Government should foot the total bill for increased safety at ANZAC Day marches, not local councils or RSLS. #auspol— Bubba (@El_Bombre) January 11, 2017
Politicians' dodgy travel or Anzac Day marches? Pretty sure know which one taxpayers would supporthttps://t.co/MbmVJ7Kr5Z— Stuart Howie (@StuartJHowie) January 11, 2017
Blue Mountains Anzac Day marches cancelled due to costs of extra policing? Scippione should be sacked @mikebairdMP This is an outrage!— Craig Golding (@Hunt4eva) January 11, 2017
Maybe the Blue Mountains can have a protest march on ANZAC day to draw attention to the cancellation of the ANZAC day march.— Mark Newton (@NewtonMark) January 11, 2017
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