Melissa Price: Defence industry minister critical of ADF Kalbarri ANZAC Day parade absence

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ADF personal helping clean up Kalbarri.
Camera IconADF personal helping clean up Kalbarri. Credit: Justin Benson-Cooper/The West Australian

The Federal Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price has criticised Australia’s military for not allowing its soldiers and personnel helping clean up Kalbarri to march in the cyclone-ravaged town’s Anzac Day parade.

After Australian Defence Force personnel were noticeably absent among the emergency workers and volunteers participating in the march, claims emerged they had been forced to pull out at the last minute because their uniforms were too dirty.

Emergency services workers at the Kalbarri Anzac Day service.
Camera IconEmergency services workers at the Kalbarri Anzac Day service. Credit: Lisa Favazzo/The Geraldton Guardian

A Defence spokesperson later confirmed the personnel in Kalbarri didn’t have their ceremonial uniforms with them needed to take part in official events like an Anzac Day march.

ANZAC Day dawn driveway service 2021 - Melissa Price, “Not what I was planning. So disappointed not to be able to join with the community at the Geraldton service, due to WA COVID lockdown restrictions. Thank you to those who serve and have served in our ADF. To the fallen, we will remember you. Lest we forget.”
Camera IconANZAC Day dawn driveway service 2021 - Melissa Price, “Not what I was planning. So disappointed not to be able to join with the community at the Geraldton service, due to WA COVID lockdown restrictions. Thank you to those who serve and have served in our ADF. To the fallen, we will remember you. Lest we forget.” Credit: Melissa Price MP/Twitter

Mrs Price, who is also the member for Kalbarri’s Federal electorate of Durack, said she had “personally expressed her disappointment” over the situation to Department of Defence Secretary Greg Moriarty.

“I am very disappointed as it would have been a great opportunity for the local community to thank those ADF personnel,” she said.

“I have been so proud of what the ADF members have done to support the people of Kalbarri and Northampton, who were hit so hard by cyclone Seroja, and many other communities.

“They have done such an incredible job during a very difficult period and I am sure they would have cherished the opportunity to march on Anzac Day.”

RSL Kalbarri representative Alex Hack, who spent six years serving in the Australian Army’s medical corps in New Guinea, said army vehicles had lined up on the road leading to the town’s war memorial prior to the parade, but dispersed just minutes before the procession.

“A mealy-mouthed weasel disguised as a human being has picked up a rule book on procedures and protocols, with total lack of consideration for feelings and morale of the Diggers who would be marching on Anzac Day,” he said.

“The community were very disappointed that the army couldn’t participate because they wanted to show their appreciation.

They should have been there, if they were covered in mud or whatever it doesn’t matter.

“I’d call for people to have common sense when interpreting these rules.”

Kalbarri RSL representative Alex Hack at the local ANZAC Day Dawn Service, which was held just weeks after Cyclone Seroja tore through the coastal town.
Camera IconKalbarri RSL representative Alex Hack at the local ANZAC Day Dawn Service, which was held just weeks after Cyclone Seroja tore through the coastal town. Credit: Lisa Favazzo/Midwest Times

But the ADF has disputed his claims, saying there were never any plans for its service people to participate in the march.

“ADF members in Kalbarri over the Anzac day period were deployed to the region to support clean-up efforts in the aftermath of TC Seroja,” the spokesperson said.

“To recognise Anzac Day, ADF personnel participated in various dawn services throughout the region, and resumed clean-up efforts at the conclusion of dawn services.

“At no stage did the ADF indicate they would participate in Anzac Day marches, with the priority of effort and resources allocated to helping the community, DFES and the WA Government with clean-up.”

Sixty-five ADF members have been deployed around Kalbarri since the cyclone recovery began.

Their counterparts who had been deployed to neighbouring Northampton performed the mounting of the guard at the mid-morning service in their ceremonial uniforms, but did not march in the parade.

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