Thousands make last-minute decision to go for Anzac centenary tickets

Last minute: Almost a quarter of applicants to attend the 2014 Anzac Day dawn service in Gallipoli entered the ballot on its closing day.
Last minute: Almost a quarter of applicants to attend the 2014 Anzac Day dawn service in Gallipoli entered the ballot on its closing day. Photo: AFP

Australians are enthusiastic about commemorating the Anzac Day centenary but they also appear to be fond of leaving things until the last minute.

Almost a quarter of the 42,582 who applied for a ticket to attend the Anzac Day dawn service at Gallipoli next year did so on the ballot's closing day.

There has been plenty of time to apply, with the ballot opening on November 15 last year. But a spokesman for Veterans' Affairs Minister Michael Ronaldson said 9966 people applied last Friday, with 972 squeaking in their applications in the final hour.

Senator Ronaldson said on Sunday that the ballot had "ignited an extraordinary response," from thousands of Australians hoping to be part of a "once-in-a-lifetime experience".

But with only 7600 tickets available, the Coalition is advising applicants to have a plan B.

"Unsuccessful applicants are encouraged to visit Gallipoli at another time in 2015, attend another Anzac Day service overseas, such as Villers-Bretonneux in France, or watch the broadcast of the Gallipoli and Villers-Bretonneux services live on the ABC," Senator Ronaldson said.

There are 8000 places reserved for Australians to attend the centenary service. Along with the 7600 tickets in the ballot, there will be 400 places for high school students and their chaperones. First World War widows will be included as part of Australia's official representative group.

The ballot is divided between 400 double passes for direct descendants of those who served in the Gallipoli campaign, 400 double passes for veterans and 3000 double passes for other Australians.

Ticketek will review the applications and remove any duplicates or incorrect applications before the ballot is drawn. Senator Ronaldson said all applicants would find out about the outcome before Anzac Day this year.

Labor veterans' affairs spokesman Don Farrell welcomed the "massive interest" in attending next year's service.

"The response shows the deep respect held by Australians towards our courageous servicemen and women, the sacrifices made by our nation at Gallipoli and many theatres of war over the past 100 years," he said.

Senator Farrell said he felt disappointed for those who would miss out but the ballot was the fairest and most transparent way to allocate places.

Overall attendance at the Gallipoli centenary service, which will also include New Zealand attendees and official guests, has been limited to 10,500 for safety reasons.

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