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Anzac Day rules have ‘gone too far’, say readers

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About 80 per cent of the more than 2000 people who responded to an online poll on the coronavirus restrictions on Anzac Day Services said they go too far.

The results of the PerthNow Facebook poll came as the Premier was forced to defend of one of his top ministers, who was accused of insulting Australians who sacrificed their lives for their country.

More than 2200 people had voted in the poll by 9pm tonight with 81 per cent saying the rules were too tough.

Veterans Issues Minister Paul Papalia denies being insensitive when he said he would rather spend money on living veterans, rather than Anzac Day.

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Mark McGowan has also stood by the COVID-19 gathering restrictions being imposed on RSL clubs across the State, resulting in some events being cancelled.

Camera IconPremier Mark McGowan says the decision has been made on medical advice. Credit: Ross Swanborough/The West Australian

Belmont and Rockingham RSL branches have cancelled their dawn service events in light of the red tape, which requires them to erect fencing and conduct contact tracing for all attendees.

Mr Papalia caused furore in the veteran community after he said on Monday “there’s a point at which you have to decide whether you divert funding from services to individuals right now and supporting people who are alive or commemorating a past event”.

He stood by his logic on Tuesday. “We should of course remember the Anzacs but they are all gone. I say to people if you want to honour the Anzacs the greatest contribution you can make right now is to look after those who inherit their legacy,” he told talkback radio.

Paul Papalia.
Camera IconPaul Papalia. Credit: Ross Swanborough/The West Australian

The Premier said Mr Papalia’s comments were in the context of the announcement of a royal commission into veteran suicide and “he was just indicating support for veterans”. Mr McGowan defended the strict COVID rules and called for “common sense” from RSL branches to ensure the services could go ahead. He added the rules were based on medical advice.

Mr McGowan urged the RSL branches to work “within the rules” for the services. “I just urge everyone to adopt a commonsense approach and make sure we can hold Anzac Day,” he said.

Shadow minister for veterans affairs Colin de Grussa said a “lack of a consistent approach to event restrictions was frustrating”.

“When Optus Stadium is able to return to full capacity … people are wondering why Anzac Day events are not being treated similarly,” Mr de Grussa said.

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