. . . something of an embarrassment:
VicRoads U-turn on 'shocking' Remembrance Day policy
November 11, 2010 - 12:21PM. The Age.
VicRoads has been forced to make an embarrassing apology today after it was revealed the organisation did not mark Remembrance Day for fear of offending people.
VicRoads chief executive Gary Liddle said he had personally asked staff to hold a minute's silence at 11am today and made an "unequivocal apology" for any offence the policy may have caused.
Earlier today, the organisation said in a statement that it did not observe a minute's silence because it was "conscious of possible different cultural issues" and didn't "wish to cause offence to anyone".
The revelation was met with astonishment by the Victorian branch of the RSL and Felix Sher, whose son Private Gregory Sher was killed last year in a rocket attack in Afghanistan.
"I'm absolutely shocked," Mr Sher told radio station 3AW.
"I can't believe that any organisation would behave in this way.
"In most countries overseas there's a minute's silence to observe and people stop dead whatever they're doing and just contemplate and consider those who have given their lives to allow us to have the freedom that we do have."
Roads Minister Tim Pallas said he was "aghast" to learn of the policy this morning and ordered that it was reversed immediately.
Mr Liddle took responsibility for the decision. He did not specify whether it was feared staff or customers would be offended by holding a minute's silence.
"We never intended to offend anyone by this practice and if we have we sincerely apologise," he told 3AW.
"I guess we saw that we were trying to respect everyone's right to make a choice how to [commemorate] the day."
Mr Liddle said his grandfather had fought at Gallipoli and he had taken the public criticism to heart.
"We've clearly heard the community and what they've said today," he said.
Victorian RSL president David McLoughlin said he was astounded.
"Remembrance Day is not only Remembrance Day in Australia, it's all around the world," he said.
"The 11th day of the 11th hour of the 11th month is when the Great War stopped and irrespective of whether you're on the coalition side, the British side, the Australian side or even on the German side, it all came to an end.
"I just cannot believe that there would be a group of people, particularly in a government department, that would decide that we weren't going to do it for fear of offending people.
"Those people have come to live in our country because of what we've got and what we can offer to them as a way of life and all of that goes back to where it all started in the contribution made by our people and we remember that on Remembrance Day. I'm amazed."
Mr Pallas said he had taken steps this morning to ensure VicRoads properly acknowledged the country's war dead on Remembrance Day.
"I was aghast and in fact I just couldn't believe the suggestion that this practice was occurring," he told 3AW.
"As a consequence of that, I've taken steps to make sure that the practice is stopped. "For whatever reason, no matter how well intentioned it was, it's wrong."
and this is Australia, the appalling thing is that it happened at all.