The Anzac Day dawn service at France’s Villers-Bretonneux has reportedly been cancelled by the Australian government in favour of a later ceremony.
The traditional dawn service will no longer take place from this year, replaced instead with a “more convenient” ceremony at 10am.
Over the years, thousands of Australians have travelled to France to attend the annual dawn service, while millions of others turned to their televisions to watch the live coverage. The new 10am service will now take place at 7pm AEST and is unlikely to be broadcast.
The Australian cited an email from department staffer Diana Stevanovic to tour groups which said the Australian government was in support of the decision.
“Following the completion of the Anzac centenary commemoration program 2014-2018 and consultation with local government representatives from the towns of Villers-Bretonneux, Corbie and Fouilloy, the Australian government has agreed to revert back to a 10am start time as a trial for the 2019 Anzac Day service,” Stevanovic wrote.
“As you may be aware, prior to 2008, the Anzac Day service was held at 10am and following an overwhelming positive response to the Armistice service held at 10.30am on November 11, 2018, from both attendees, invited guests and the relevant French authorities, the Australian government has decided to trial reverting back to a 10am service for Anzac Day 2019.”
However, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said this morning he was open to overturning the decision to axe the dawn service.
“That was a matter that I understand was decided by the Department,” Morrison told Sky News. “That’s been brought to my attention. I’ll be discussing that with the Minister.”
It’s the latest in a string of big changes to hit the annual parade in recent months.
Last year, RSL ACT banned children under the age of 12 from marching with their grandparents in the state parade, and just days later, RSL Victoria said cars made before 2010 were no longer allowed in the parade unless they met new safety standards. That means many of the classic vintage army cars crowds are used to seeing will be replaced with newer models or civilian cars.