RACIALLY insensitive and politically inappropriate. That is the angry response to two speeches given by senior RSL members at a Sunshine Coast Anzac Day service yesterday.
In the opening address at the Tewantin main service, Tewantin-Noosa RSL Sub-Branch deputy president Ian Rowe said that if migrants did not like the way Australians lived, they should go back to their own country.
His speech also included comments about boat people and the Boston bombings.
Guest speaker John Philpot - a Tewantin-Noosa RSL Sub-Branch member who has a 46-year association with the Royal Australian Air Force - upset many by bringing up politics.
Mr Philpot called on the Federal Government to acknowledge that Vietnam veterans had been treated poorly. He said not enough had been done to address Diggers' mental health issues.
The Sunshine Coast Daily and Noosa News websites received letters of complaint about the speeches.
One Noosa schoolteacher who attended the event with his students described the addresses as shameful.
The teacher, who asked not to be named, said men leading the event had used the occasion as a platform for their own ill-informed, political comments.
"Jibes were made at politicians (and) disrespecting the tragedy of the Boston bombing to make bigoted comments," he said.
He said he was embarrassed by the remarks made in front of his students.
"This is not what Australia is about," he said. "There was complete disrespect for the meaning of Anzac."
Is it fair to make service-related political comments at Anzac Day events?
This poll ended on 26 May 2013.
Of course it is - people have died for that freedom
It is, but it needs to be done sensitively
I'm in two minds, there are arguments both ways
No it's not - there are other forums for that
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
Nick Radge, of Noosa Heads, said he had come to pay his respects to those who served, not to listen to a political rant by Mr Rowe.
A Noosa-Tewantin Sub-Branch spokesman said the sub-branch would speak with Mr Rowe and Mr Philpot about their speeches.
"Ian Rowe is a bit of a rough diamond but he means well," the spokesman said.
"If he had stuck to the speech he made at the dawn service, it would have gone over well."
As for Mr Philpot's comments, the spokesman said: "We didn't know he was going to get political."
Attempts were made to contact Mr Rowe and Mr Philpot last night.
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