MP's Anzac Day speech gag

Flag bearers Warren Holloway, John O’Callaghan and Con Chatham at the Bargara Anzac Day Ceremony last year.
Flag bearers Warren Holloway, John O’Callaghan and Con Chatham at the Bargara Anzac Day Ceremony last year. Mike Knott

MEMBER for Hinkler Paul Neville has refused to give up any of the time allocated to him to allow Member for Burnett Rob Messenger to speak at the Anzac Day parade in Bargara.

And parade marshal Dave Kent has endorsed calls that if Mr Messenger, who served in the air force, was so keen to be involved he should wear his medals and join in the march.

The row blew up when Mr Messenger discovered he had been left off the list of speakers at the parade.

He accused Greg Barnes, who is organising the parade in his capacity as chairman of the Coral Coast Chamber of Commerce, of letting personal and party political feelings influence his decision making.

Mr Messenger said traditionally a brief address from the relevant state and federal politicians on behalf of their constituents is considered standard protocol at an Anzac Day Dawn Service.

“I’ve always found Federal Member for Hinkler Paul Neville to be a gracious statesman who understands the importance of tradition, protocol and symbolism,” he said.

“Since Mr Barnes has refused to allocate a couple of minutes in the official program for me to thank, on behalf of the state electorate of Burnett, the servicemen and women of Australia for their sacrifice, I’ll be forced to ask Paul if he will share some of his speaking time with me.”

But Mr Neville said he was honoured to be asked to speak at the service.

“I understand that the length of this year’s service will be reduced for a number of reasons and in terms of others who might speak or take part in the service, I feel that those matters should be left in the hands of organisers,” he said.

Parade marshal Mr Kent said he agreed with Mr Barnes’ actions.

“If Rob Messenger wants to lay a wreath anyone can do that, it would be the respectful thing to do,” he said.

Mr Barnes said he explained to Mr Messenger the number of speeches from politicians had been curtailed after a post mortem of last year’s event and criticism in the media suggesting it had included too much input from politicians.

Mr Barnes said he had also told the Bundaberg Regional Council that because of time constraints this year’s service could not include a speech by a councillor.

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