Australia Blue Mountains Anzac Day marches given council lifeline after security costs dispute

20:50  11 january  2017
20:50  11 january  2017 Source:   ABC News

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Australian Army cadets take part in the Anzac Day © AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts Australian Army cadets take part in the Anzac Day Four cancelled Anzac Day marches in NSW's Blue Mountains region may go ahead after the local council said it would help cover the costs of new anti-terrorism requirements.

The RSL sub-branches in Katoomba, Blackheath, Springwood and Glenbrook said on Wednesday they had cancelled their annual marches after being advised they would need to spend thousands of dollars on security protections.

Katoomba RSL director David White said the sub-branches could not afford to pay for the measures, including the installation of barriers to prevent trucks being used in attacks like those in Nice and Berlin last year.

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The cancellations led to a stoush between the Blue Mountains City Council and the State Government, each of which said the other should cover the costs.

On Wednesday night, Blue Mountains Mayor Mark Greenhill said the council would provide funding and offer the use of its trucks as barriers to ensure the marches went ahead.

He said it was unclear how much the council would have to pay, but the Katoomba RSL sub-branch said it had been advised compliance costs could be more than $10,000.

"We're hoping that we don't have to contribute the whole cost and we're hoping that perhaps the provision of our trucks will offset some of that, but this [funding] will come from council services, there's no doubt, and ratepayers can thank the State Government for that," Cr Greenhill said.

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Earlier, a spokeswoman for Police Minister Troy Grant said the State Government had offered to halve the costs with the council, but Cr Greenhill said he had not received that offer.

"If we provide financial support and they provide financial support, then all the better," Cr Greenhill said.

The Government had accused the council of trying to dodge its responsibility to cover the costs.

In a letter to the Katoomba RSL sub-branch provided to the ABC, Roads Minister Duncan Gay wrote: "Councils across the state have always been the 'first point of contact' to help assist and fund the NSW Returned & Services League and its sub-branches in hosting Anzac Day marches."

"[The] Blue Mountains City Council constantly cries poor in the lead up to Anzac Day (indeed, I'm not aware of any other council which behaves in such a manner)," Mr Gay wrote.

Cr Greenhill said the Blue Mountains events were subject to stricter requirements than events elsewhere in the state, and it was not clear why.

The North West Metropolitan Region's police commander, Assistant Commissioner Denis Clifford, said he was "extremely disappointed" the marches were in jeopardy.

"I understand the concerns about the environment we currently live in, but I would like to assure all the veterans, their relatives and concerned members of the public that we are not aware of any specific threat to Anzac Day marches," he said.

Assistant Commissioner Clifford said he had called for a meeting with all involved parties next week to ensure the situation was resolved.

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