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After hundreds of millions in aid, over a thousand scholarships - Vietnam cancels Long Tan Day celebrations

It's very difficult to understand how the Vietnamese authorities let the planning, cooperation and costs for Long Tan Day commemorations at the Cross get so far advanced before pulling the pin.

More than 1,000 Australian veterans and partners are in Vietnam with most planning to attend the Cross ceremony.

Joint preparations involving the Australian Government and the Vietnamese authorities have been underway for 18 months.

The Australian Government actively canvassed for veterans to attend and offered to reimburse their costs up to $1500 each.

To allow people into the country for the express purpose of attending the place where so many mates were killed in action 50 years ago (in all likelihood the last major commemoration most of these men will be around for) and then prohibit access to the site the day before just beggars belief.


Financial support for veterans of the Battle of Long Tan travelling to Vietnam

Further information


The Hon Dan Tehan MP
Minister for Veterans' Affairs

Minister for Defence Personnel
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Cyber Security
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC

3 August 2016

Assistance for Long Tan veterans returning to Vietnam on 18 August 2016 

The Australian Government will provide travel assistance to Australia’s Long Tan veterans who travel to Vietnam to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the battle on 18 August.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan said the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan was an important milestone that should be marked accordingly.

“Some Long Tan veterans have chosen to commemorate the anniversary of the battle in Australia and some veterans have chosen to return to Vietnam,” Mr Tehan said. 

“In line with the assistance provided to Long Tan veterans who wish to attend commemorations in Australia, the Australian Government will provide some financial assistance to Long Tan veterans who wish to travel to Long Tan in Vietnam on 18 August.

“The Australian Government will provide assistance to these veterans to commemorate this important anniversary in a way and in a place that is most important to them.”

A Long Tan veteran and their travelling companion will each be entitled to claim AUD$1500 for travel expenses. Any Long Tan veteran seeking details about reimbursement of travel costs can contact the Department of Veterans’ Affairs by telephone on 133 254 or by emailing 

The Battle of Long Tan took place on 18 August 1966. It was one of the fiercest battles fought by Australian soldiers in the Vietnam War, involving 105 Australians and three New Zealanders from D Company 6RAR. D Company were greatly assisted by an ammunition resupply by RAAF helicopters, close fire support from New Zealand's 161 Field Battery, together with additional artillery support from the Australian task force base at Nui Dat, and the arrival of reinforcements in APCs as night fell.






Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 3.23.41 pm


    Commemorations of the battle of Long Tan have been cancelled by Vietnamese officials, DFAT says. (AAP) 
A commemoration for the 50th anniversary of the battle of Long Tan in Vietnam has been cancelled, despite 1000 veterans already being in the country. 
17 AUG 2016 - 5:44 PM  UPDATED 24 MINS AGO
The Vietnamese government's decision to ban the 50th anniversary commemoration for the battle of Long Tan at the last minute is a "kick in the guts" and not the act of a friend, Veterans Affairs Minister Dan Tehan says.

There are now concerns about 1000 veterans who have travelled to Vietnam will be "shattered" after planning and paying for their trips.

The federal government is deeply disappointed and is representations at what it says is the highest level to have the ban of Thursday's Veterans Day at the Long Tan cross site overturned.

Mr Tehan said the government was advised of the decision late on Tuesday without warning.

"For us to be given such short notice of the cancellation is, to put it in very frank terms, a kick in the guts," Mr Tehan told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.

"I don't think this is the way that you should treat a friend."

The Vietnamese government cited concerns about "deep sensitivities" over the battle and the impact the commemorations could have on the local community.

It comes after about 18 months of cooperation between the two countries to organise the event.

Mr Tehan insists the Australian government was aware of the sensitivities and had planned a "low-key" ceremony.

Memorial events have been held at Long Tan since 1989.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was trying to speak with his Vietnamese counterpart on Wednesday.

"My real hope is that we will see a change of heart by the Vietnamese government," Mr Tehan said.

"One of the bitterly, bitterly disappointing things about what has occurred is the fact that this decision has taken place with such short notice."

Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia president Ken Foster said veterans would be devastated.

"To be told at the last minute to sit in their hotel or sit in a bar because they can't go where they want to go - they'll be shattered," he told reporters in Canberra.

The Department of Foreign Affairs understands private access to the site will still be permitted.

An official party including the Australian and New Zealand ambassadors will still lay a wreath at the cross site on Thursday.

Mr Tehan said the government's assessment was that the decision was based on sensitivities relating to the battle of Long Tan and not any other aspect of Vietnam-Australia relations.

Commemorations will go ahead in Australian on Wednesday evening - including at an event at Parliament House in Canberra - and on Thursday.

The federal opposition has backed the Australian government.

"The cancellation of the service, at such short notice, is shocking and deeply upsetting for the veterans and families from both countries who have travelled to commemorate this important event," Labor said in a statement on Wednesday.