Mayor apologises after Remembrance Day backlash
UPDATE 10.15am: MACKAY Regional Council Mayor Deirdre Comerford and Remembrance Day service organiser Col Benson both acted with veteran's interests at heart.
That's why Mackay RSL Sub Branch President Dennis Paidley was disappointed to return home from an interstate trip to find the media furore which followed the delay in observing a minute's silence at the Jubilee Park Service this Wednesday.
At 11am, when the minutes silence is traditionally held, Cr Comerford was making a speech so the park did not fall silent until 11.26am.
But it was event organiser Mr Benson who took responsibility, saying he was the one who agreed to setback the services' start until 10.45am so the mayor could attend.
While Mr Paidley said it was a faux paus to delay the silence, he said everyone had only acted with the veterans needs at heart.
"I'm disappointed with the response, it was just a faux paus on the day," Mr Paidley said.
"The important thing was everyone there had veterans needs at heart and the silence was still acknowledged.
"I'm sure if someone had asked her (Cr Comerford) to stop at 11am she would have."
He added it was unfortunate the hard work that had gone into organising the event and preparing the grounds had been overlooked.
"Everyone worked very hard to make the park look good," he said.
"People, especially young veterans, should come along and help out, not criticize those who put the work in."
MACKAY Mayor Deirdre Comerford has apologised to anyone who was offended at the Remembrance Day service yesterday.
Mayor Comerford was scheduled to speak at 11am when the audience at Jubilee park's service was expecting the traditional minute of silence to mark the silencing of the guns of First World War.
Mayor Deidre Comerford said she has nothing but the utmost respect for our diggers and solemn traditions such as Remembrance Day.
"I am extremely proud as the mayor to speak at ceremonies like Remembrance Day and Anzac Day on behalf of our region," Mayor Comerford said.
"The RSL works tirelessly to organise such events and should be commended for their Remembrance Day ceremony, which was a fitting tribute to fallen diggers and former servicemen and servicewomen.
"I addressed the gathering when asked to by the organisers and I apologise if anyone has taken offence at the ceremony."
Hundreds took to social media yesterday and this morning to condemn the action, and some veterans were outraged over the incident.
MACKAY RSL historian and Remembrance Day service organiser Col Benson said the delayed minute of silence yesterday had "nothing to do with the mayor".
The minute of silence was not observed until 11.26am at the Jubilee Park service yesterday, as Mackay Regional Council mayor Deirdre Comerford addressed the crowd.
But Mr Benson said he had agreed to set the service back to begin at 10.45am so Cr Comerford could attend as guest speaker.
He said once a parade starts rolling, the best way to avoid calamity was to keep it rolling.
"I have the greatest respect for these ceremonies and I know the mayor has the greatest respect for these ceremonies," Mr Benson said.
"When I was asked by council staff three weeks ago could I delay the start until 10.45am I had to make that decision.
"I think that was fair: if you want a person to participate, you have to coordinate."
He said organising the service was not easy, he didn't have a lot of volunteers and it was the lost friends and colleagues and their families that were his main motivation in taking on the job.
He also said the minute of silence was observed at different times all around the world.
"And I have the greatest respect (for the fact that) once a parade starts to roll, you don't stop it, else you'll have a great schmozzle," Mr Benson said.
The council have not yet provided a comment.
What you've said on social media:
PEOPLE took to social media on Wednesday to express their outrage and disappointment that the minute silence at Mackay's ceremony at Jubilee Park was not observed at 11am
Michael Cameron had been in the Army for a decade and yesterday he went to the service.
He said at 11am when everyone was expecting a minute of silence, Mackay Mayor Deirdre Comerford was speaking on the upgrades a Jubilee Park and the minute of silence not observed until 11.26am.
His outrage was shared by hundreds on social media last night when he shared his thoughts on his partner's Facebook page.
"I just can't believe what happened I am emotional about this. It is an outrage," he said.
"Someone said to us that even at Adelaide Airport it all stopped at 11am to observe the minute silence.
"Big companies and organisations show a greater deal of respect."
Mr Cameron said there have been thousands of people who has shared his outrage including the veterans at the event.
A post from the Mackay Regional Council to Carli Cameron's post about the incident stated that the RSL organised the event.
"The Mayor is simply told when to provide her speech. Council ensures Jubilee Park is in pristine condition for the service, but the RSL arranges the rundown and controls the scheduling," the post stated.
But Mr Cameron said "he didn't know if she (Deirdre Comerford) was to blame', but said should not have been difficult to observe the minute silence.
Daily Mercury is seeking further comment from Mackay Regional Council and Mackay RSL.