A protest that interrupted the Gallipoli dawn service last year has sparked an overhaul of security operations on the peninsula that should make the 2015 centenary commemorations much safer.
Veterans’ Affairs Minister Michael Ronaldson says Australian and New Zealand authorities learned from the “regrettable incident” in 2013 and the lacklustre response.
“We have put in place some other processes around security to minimise the risk of that occurring again,” Senator Ronaldson told reporters at Gallipoli on Wednesday.
“You can never clearly say it (an incident) will never occur.
“(But) I’m confident the things put in place will secure not only the VIPs, but indeed, the Australians and New Zealanders who will have travelled a long distance to be part of a quite remarkable event.”
Twelve months ago, dual Turkish-Australian national Ali Riza Ersoy started yelling during the dawn service at North Beach as he rushed the main stage.
It took minutes for Turkish authorities to intervene and manhandle the then 65-year-old protester out of the commemorative site.
It was later discovered he’d wanted to present documents to Australia’s official representative Warren Snowdon.
Senator Ronaldson on Wednesday was asked if there was now an arrangement that would allow Australian or New Zealand police to step in if there was a similar incident.
“I don’t want to discuss security issues, but lessons were well-learned,” the minister replied.
Australian services director Tim Evans says the hesitant response in 2013 has resulted in a more focused approach to dealing with any “fixated individual”.
“Everybody was there, but nobody was quite sure who should be laying hands on this person,” he told reporters.
“We’ve spent a bit of time over the past 12 months sorting that through both with our Turkish colleagues and our own arrangements.
“We’re very confident now, that would be dealt with quickly and appropriately.”
Asked who had jurisdiction to act at the commemorative sites, Mr Evans noted that the Turkish police were the law officers at Gallipoli.
“Beyond that I don’t intend to say.”
Turkey’s 2nd army corps will deploy 1000 soldiers across the peninsula this year and again in 2015.
Pilgrims entering the North Beach and Lone Pine sites must submit to airport-type body scans and bag searches.
Senator Ronaldson this week met with the Turkish defence, foreign and culture ministers about the 2015 commemorations.
He revealed on Wednesday the Turkish government has now set up a separate agency to coordinate the centenary.
It’s likely Prince Charles will attend alongside Prime Minister Tony Abbott and other Commonwealth leaders.