Upset to miss Gallipoli pass

The Wanaka son of a Gallipoli war veteran claims he and dozens of others like him are being ''grossly mistreated'' by the Government over passes for next year's centenary of the World War 1 Anzac campaign on Turkish soil.

Duncan Boswell applied to represent his family at the commemoration, in the place where his father Frederick Duncan Boswell fought.

However, he missed out on getting a pass in the Government ballot announced on March 31.

Mr Boswell told the Otago Daily Times from Sydney this week the ballot provided places for only 25 of the 193 children of Gallipoli veterans who applied.

He described the Government process as ''absolutely disgraceful''.

''The Department of Veterans Affairs and the Minister of Veterans Affairs Michael Woodhouse have demonstrated indifference to, and mistreatment of, the children of Gallipoli veterans.''

Of the 10,000 places available at Gallipoli, 8000 went to Australia and 2000 to New Zealand.

Mr Boswell said even if all the New Zealand children of veterans and their partners had been given passes, that was still just 20% of the country's allocation.

Despite early indications from the Government that children would get special treatment, they had been ''shoved out'', Mr Boswell said.

He believed the Government expected few of the children would be keen or able to attend.

''Unfortunately for them, it was very many.''

Mr Boswell has tracked Government statements on the ballot process and believes they show a decline in provisions for children of veterans.

A cabinet paper from Mr Woodhouse in March 2013 noted there was ''an unknown number of children of Gallipoli veterans still alive.

''Very few of them will be aged less than 75 years.

''These children have a stronger case than any other descendant to attend the commemoration, but for most, their age and health status will preclude them from attending in a public capacity.

''Allocation of tickets for this group should be managed outside the ballot.''

A May 15 press release proposed allocating 100 places for ''special groups such as youth representatives and children of Gallipoli veterans'' in addition to 200 for direct descendants and 1500 for all New Zealanders including descendants and veterans.

On November 15, when the minister released details of the Gallipoli ballot, reference to the children being managed outside the ballot or as a special group was not included.

''There was always a special category for children of the veterans,'' Mr Boswell said.

''And that has progressively been shoved sideways and almost out of the picture.''

He said the Government had ''clearly retreated from the promise made in May 2013''.

''To date there has been no public explanation.''

About two hours after The Otago Daily Times rang Mr Woodhouse's office and was told a response to the issue raised by Mr Boswell might take a week or two, Mr Woodhouse issued a press release saying 35 double passes held back from the ballot would be allocated to children of Gallipoli veterans and their partners.

Mr Boswell said this made no difference.

''My view is that the 193 should have all been given the passes, as was the original intent.

''It was not a question of being balloted.

''It was as of right they were going to go.''

Mr Boswell's father was wounded twice in World War 1 and had shell or bullet fragments in his body until he died in 1954.

''I was 9 years old when he died and can only remember my father as someone whose health suffered, some of it due to his active service.

Mr Boswell's uncle Charles also served in World War 1 and was awarded the Military Cross for bravery.

His uncle Colin was killed in World War 2 - ''coincidentally, on Anzac Day''.

''Out of five possible Boswell children [my cousin included] who could have applied for inclusion as a child of a Gallipoli veteran, I was the only one to do so.

''There was a tacit consent that I would be their representative.''

mark.price@odt.co.nz