THE Wanneroo RSL president has thrown his support behind Cowan MHR Anne Aly after she was the target of hateful comments on social media following the sub-branch’s Anzac Day Dawn Service.
Several far right groups posted on their Facebook pages on Tuesday night that ‘Gary’ had attended the Wanneroo Dawn Service where it was announced Dr Aly would not be laying a wreath, with one page prefacing the “message from an Aussie” by saying she had refused to do so.
These garnered hundreds of anti-Muslim and derogatory comments and shares, with Dr Aly’s page inundated with messages asking why she had declined.
She had instead attended the Ballajura RSL service, where she gave a speech and laid a wreath, and Dr Aly said she had a strong relationship with the RSL.
“The real shame here is that our national day of reflection – where we pay tribute to the selfless men and women who gave their lives for our freedom – was so disrespected by people who wanted to score political points,” she said.
“As a counter-terrorism expert, I work a lot with victims of terror and with first responders, with people who have sacrificed.
“I have a lot of respect for our service men and women.
“The City of Wanneroo and the Wanneroo RSL put on an extraordinary Dawn Service to unite our community and reflect on the sacrifices of others.
“I won’t stand for people using it to divide us.”
Wanneroo RSL president Jack Le Cras had been elated after the club’s inaugural service in Wanneroo but it turned to disappointment when he was made aware of what had transpired afterwards.
He said the sub-branch had invited Dr Aly to the service but she had given her apologies because she had committed to attending the Ballajura event, and Wanneroo MLA Sabine Winton told them she would attend and lay a wreath in her absence.
“That was quite suitable and we were quite happy to acknowledge this,” he said.
“Anne Aly and Federal members are in huge demand by every RSL and it was just unfortunate that we were late in issuing our invitations.”
Mr Le Cras said an announcement was made at the service that Dr Aly was unable to attend and Ms Winton would lay the wreath on her behalf.
“Somebody has twisted it around and made a mess of the whole thing regrettably,” he said.
“I was in shock. I think it was quite disgusting people would adopt this attitude for cheap words.”
He called the rumour “rude and offensive” and said he had met Dr Aly numerous times through the RSL.
Mr Le Cras was concerned the “mud would stick” to Dr Aly and the club, and was disappointed that the successful service had been “degraded” by the comments.
“Anzac Day is for everyone and for all Australians and we should just commemorate the day and give our thoughts to not only those fallen but the ones still serving, and disregard the minority,” he said.
Pearce MHR Christian Porter also came under social media scrutiny after seats were reserved for him at the Anzac Day service held by Yanchep Two Rocks RSL but he did not attend.
Club secretary Malcolm Gow said he invited the Federal Social Services Minister using what he thought was the same email address as usual but Mr Porter contacted him after the day to say the address was incorrect and he had not received the invitation.
Mr Gow described it as an “electronic hiccup” but was disappointed Mr Porter did not follow up with the sub-branch, saying he knew about the service and a list of local services was published on his website and Facebook page.
Mr Porter said a tweet questioning his attendance was sent by a former chief of staff to an ex-Labor Senator.
“It was explained in response that my office never received an invitation to officiate at the ceremony, the organisers apologised for sending it to the wrong address,” he said.
The Times also asked what services Mr Porter attended on Anzac Day, but did not receive a response before deadline.