News National Australians jump aboard Anzac flotilla idea

Australians jump aboard Anzac flotilla idea

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More Australians could witness ANZAC centenary commemorations at Gallipoli in 2015, but they will have do it offshore.

Turkish authorities have limited to 8000 the number of Australians who can actually attend the event.

Plans for a flotilla of cruise ships to anchor in the waters off Anzac Cove on the day were being considered by the Turkish government, Veterans Affairs Minister Michael Ronaldson said.

“The number of cruise ships, where they anchor and access, is a matter for the Turkish government,” he told reporters in Canberra on Thursday.

Senator Ronaldson earlier announced details of the ballot process for the Australian places. Registrations open from 12.01am (AEDT) on Saturday and close on January 31, 2014.

The ballot will allocate 3000 double passes to the general public; 400 double passes are for direct descendants of World War I veterans; 400 double passes for veterans of all conflicts and 400 passes for school students and their chaperones.

Senator Ronaldson predicted as few as one in five applicants would be successful, contributing to Australians and New Zealanders seeking other options including the flotilla. It would allow an additional 7500 people to witness the events.

Senator Ronaldson said cruise ship operators were speaking to Turkish authorities about the issue. They are considering the idea, along with several others, News Corp said on Thursday.

Successful applicants will not be able to on-sell their passes because they include photo identification.

“These tickets will not be available on eBay,” Senator Ronaldson said.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott will attend the service along with the opposition leader and chief of the defence force.

Special invitations will also be extended to 160 surviving widows of WWI veterans, Senator Ronaldson said.