Recently, RSL branches in Victoria announced a ban on old-school military vehicles at the state’s ANZAC day parade, supposedly due to pollution and carbon emission concerns.
The rule is the latest in a slew of draconian nanny-state measures imposed on ANZAC parades across the country, including bans on the young grandchildren of veterans as well as even community bands.
The RSL Victorian Branch has banned vehicles manufactured before 2010 from taking part in the Anzac Day Parade on the premise that they cause safety risks and emit too much carbon dioxide, which may be harmful to marchers and spectators. The ban on vehicles manufactured before 2010 is in place for Victoria’s Anzac Day Parades and has been extended as a guideline in New South Wales.
Classic military vehicles are entirely appropriate for Anzac Day Parades. They remind veterans of their experiences, achievements and fallen comrades, and demonstrate that our young people are carrying on this timeless tradition. It is unquestionable that wartime vehicles bring authenticity, colour and continuity to the annual occasion of commemorating Australia’s military history and remembering those who died for our country.
Proponents argue that the prohibition is justified on the basis that the safety of older vehicles are unreliable, citing the case of a World War II-era truck injuring eight veterans during the 2011 Anzac Day Parade in Melbourne. However, the facts reveal that the driver of the truck in question had removed both hands from the steering wheel only moments before the accident to take a photo – an issue of human error rather than mechanical failure.
An annual car service for vehicles is usually sufficient for cars to be roadworthy. Older vehicles must pass more rigorous tests to be approved for on-road driving than newer vehicles, and many are required to use 98 Octane fuels which produce less CO2 emissions than regular 91 Octane fuels. It is false to insinuate that veterans and spectators are breathing in pollution directly from an exhaust pipe during this open-air event. If older vehicles made before 2010 are so harmful to our health, why has the government not banned all such vehicles from our roads?
To add insult to injury, RSL ACT has also banned children under the age of 12 from marching with their veteran grandparents; on the basis that one child tripped and accidentally brought down an elderly marcher in 2017. This ban seems to address a minor issue which has not been a concern for Anzac Day Parades over the last 100 years, but on the other hand, sets a negative precedent which denies children the right to embrace and be proud of their grandparents’ contribution to our country.
Equally shocking is RSL ACT’s prohibition on community bands from participating in the 2018 Anzac Day March. For the first time ever, the Royal Military College Band will be the only band allowed to play in the commemorations in Canberra. Traditional participating groups such as The Salvation Army Band, Canberra City Band and the Australian Defence Force Academy Band have been excluded, with RSL ACT claiming concerns of “inconsistent tempos and audibility” of march music in the past. Disgusted veterans have justifiably voiced their refusal to be involved in any march without community bands. The spirit of Anzac Day marches – and marchers – is about remembrance, not about worrying if a marcher is slightly out of step with their cohort.
These instances, combined with increasing regulations and ‘sin taxes’, are growing evidence of the insidious and creeping nanny state intervening in the lives of ordinary Australians. These are certainly not the values that our diggers fought and died for.
NSW RSL recently overturned their ill-considered decision to replace taxicabs ferrying veterans for the 2018 Anzac Day Parade with golf carts. We can only hope that other branches of the League follow suit in respecting traditions and common sense by allowing wartime vehicles, community bands and the grandchildren of veterans to proudly take part in the 2018 Anzac Day Parades.
If our WWII, Korea and Vietnam veterans want classic military vehicles for Anzac Day, then we should muster every single Jeep we can for them. They are the ones who made the sacrifices – lest we forget.
David Yao is a Research Associate at the Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance.
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