‘Wonderful’: Anzac Day given green light in North QLD
A DECISION from Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk that Anzac Day commemoration will go ahead as normal across the state despite the COVID-19 pandemic has been welcomed by Far Northerners.
It means services in Cairns have the green light to go ahead, however there are still likely to be a few changes to previous years.
Cairns RSL sub branch president Peter Hayton said discussions about Anzac Day had started in November.
"There'll be a dawn service and the march will probably change because of the Esplanade works," he said.
"At this stage, we'll be starting the march at Munro Martin Park heading to the cenotaph."
He said the Premier's announcement aligned with "what we've been planning for it to all work".
"It's a positive but we're still cautious as things with the coronavirus could change quickly," Mr Hayton said.
"If there's another outbreak in southeast Queensland, we're not sure if it's going to steamroll up to Cairns or not."
Mr Hayton said defence personnel and numbers at services still remain uncertained as they were a federal government matter.
Edmonton sub-branch president Ian Oakley said the news was "wonderful".
In her announcement, Ms Palaszczuk said in times of strife, Queenslanders did what it took to protect each other.
"We've done it in wartime, and we're doing it now through the global pandemic," she said.
"Every single Queenslander responded to the call to stop the spread of the virus.
"Because we've worked together to keep safe, this year we can safely gather to mark the sacrifices of those who have served."
In 2020, Far Northerners paid their respects at the end of their driveways after the cancellation of dawn services and marches.
EARLIER: The Far North's RSL sub branches have vowed to do everything they can to ensure Anzac Day this year reverts as much as possible to its traditional commemorations as uncertainty hangs over the coronavirus' impact.
A district meeting of sub branches, including the Tablelands, Cassowary Coast and state representatives, was held in Cairns on Sunday.
Cairns RSL sub branch president Peter Hayton said plans, including a Dawn Service and a march, had been the subjects of discussion with Cairns Regional Council since November.
"Everything is going as planned, but (we) would reduce what we can do and how many people can attend significantly," Mr Hayton said.
"There'll be a Dawn Service and the march will probably change because of the Esplanade works. At this stage, we'll be starting the march at Munro Martin Park heading to the cenotaph."
Mr Hayton said the usual 3000-4000 people during the city's services would be heavily reduced, but he encouraged people to participate in the Light Up The Dawn event introduced in 2020.
Edmonton RSL sub branch president Ian Oakley said only four hours' notice about the district meeting was received and that a local committee meeting this Thursday should provide a clearer picture of plans.
"There are COVID concerns and my preference is for attendances at the dawn service and march," he said.
"If the committee wants to do more than that, it'd probably involve the schools help with organising the march and to allow people to lay wreaths."
He said the sub branch was preparing its cenotaph, with new statues installed after vandalism last March.
In a statement, RSL Queensland said it was working with its network of 230 sub branches "to enable all Queenslanders to pay their respects to the state's veterans this coming Anzac Day".
State president Tony Ferris said the organisation understood how critically important it was for veterans to be honoured and for Queenslanders to have the opportunity to pay their respects.
"We are determined that … COVID-19 will not stand between veterans and the grateful community they served," he said.
"In the coming weeks, we will publish a map of services and commemorative activities across the state on our RSL Queensland website when they are confirmed."
"While every organisation is required to observe Queensland Health guidelines on social distancing and contact tracing, we are planning two complementary commemorative approaches that will be COVID-safe."
First, RSL Queensland is working with its sub branches to establish local commemorations, where they could be safely conducted.
Second, the 'Light Up the Dawn' from driveways at 6am will run once again.
Originally published as 'Wonderful': Anzac Day given green light in Far North