Govt tells Anzac pilgrims to behave at Gallipoli service

The Australian and New Zealand Governments are about to give the "respect" message to their citizens travelling to Gallipoli to commemorate Anzac Day.

In recent years, huge numbers of Australian and New Zealand backpackers have travelled from Britain for the commemorations and that has led to complaints about rubbish and behaviour.

Queensland Returned Services League president Bill Mason last year said the area where the dawn service was held at Gallipoli resembled a "tip" after it was all over.

There were also photographs of young Australians at the Lone Pine cemetery lying on the graves of slain Australian soldiers, sitting on headstones and some even using the headstones as pillows.

New Zealand Veterans' Affairs Minister Rick Barker, who attended the launch of Gallipoli'07 in Canberra yesterday, said there would be a stern message to those attending next month's commemorations.

"Central to our planning is ensuring a strong message is conveyed to the crowd concerning appropriate behaviour, dress, conduct and respect for a sacred place of remembrance, in a foreign country.

"The launch of Gallipoli'07 will help ensure this year's commemorations evoke an appreciation of the sacrifice made by those who served at Gallipoli," he said.

Australia, New Zealand and Turkey were working together to oversee the planning, security and safety arrangements for the ceremonies, he said.

"New Zealand's experience at Gallipoli fostered an emerging national identity, and it's important we create an environment that allows those travelling to Gallipoli to respectfully connect with their past and understand the massive sacrifice made by their forebears," said Mr Barker.

"We also want to create a context that evokes a sense of the desperate conditions that the soldiers endured in 1915."

An "interpretive programme" will be run through the night of April 24, providing a dignified, educative and solemn account of the Gallipoli Campaign.

"As part of this a new documentary, Kiwis on Gallipoli will be played which combines moving film footage, still images and the words of the New Zealanders who served on the Peninsula to tell the story of the New Zealand experience."

Sales of alcohol would again be banned at the commemorative sites, he said.

Last year plans for Australian singer John Farnham to perform before the service at Gallipoli were dropped after an outcry that it would be inappropriate.

However there was still criticism after the Bee Gees hits Stayin' Alive and You Should Be Dancin' were played on a large screen to the crowd gathered to honour the dead. Such entertainment has been dropped from this year's programme.

This year marks the 92nd anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign, in which 2721 New Zealanders lost their lives.

- NZPA

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