Anzac Day marches cancelled

Anzac Day marches across the Mountains have been cancelled this year because of the additional costs of anti-terrorism measures imposed by local police.

These include the use of water-filled barriers to close roads, initiated in the wake of the Nice attack last July.

David White, spokesman for the Mountains ex-services organisations, said the decision to cancel marches in Katoomba, Blackheath, Springwood and Glenbrook was taken with a heavy heart.

“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.

“It’s that loss of something which has been treasured by the community which breaks our hearts.”

Mr White continued: “The terrorists are winning. I say that because the reaction to events overseas continues to provoke over-reactions here, in our view, which require mitigation actions that are beyond our means.”

There will still be dawn services and wreath-laying ceremonies, Mr White said. There will also be a march in Lawson, which has been privately funded.

The four sub-branches have appealed to the state government to ease the traffic obligations or to help with costs, without success.

Local Area Commander, Superintendent Darryl Jobson, did not comment on the water barrier requirements but said a mixture of “on road and off road events” was proposed this year.

“The type of event is a matter for the organisers and we will continue to work with organisers to ensure their respective events are safe,” he said.

Council, which is believed to have spent $70,000 over the past two years to ensure the marches went ahead, is unable to continue the financial assistance this year.

Mr White said the sub-branches appreciated that both council and police had been “extremely supportive of our attempts to maintain our marches in the face of the regulatory challenges now in place”.

Council has raised the issue with both state and federal governments and is seeking advice on other practical and more cost effective long-term alternatives solutions to water barriers, a spokeswoman said.

Blue Mountains mayor Mark Greenhill posted on his Facebook page on January 11 the decision “is a direct result of state government restrictions. I have appealed to the state government to fix this problem that comes under their area of responsibility”.

“This is as upsetting to me as it will be to the community,” he said. “The Gazette article outlines the state government’s responsibility. But some have sought to blame council. It is a decision that has nothing to do with us. Indeed, it is a decision we have written to the state government about. We helped RSL sub-branches over the last two years but the government has maintained the policy. I wrote to the government again in the last few weeks with no response to date. I think the government should fund the changes it is requiring.”

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