After taking a hit to their hip pockets, soldiers serving in one of Parramatta’s oldest institutions will be marching out of step with the government.
Federal bean counters have have cut loose and slashed the allowance that paid for military band uniforms and instruments.
The Royal NSW Lancers, who have called Parramatta their home since 1891, have come out swinging at cuts to their budget.
The Lancer regimental band, and 16 others across Australia, have been told that after more than 120 years of tradition, its members will now need to pay for their own instruments and uniforms.
The government expects to save $4 million annually across the 17 bands.
Honorary Secretary of the Royal New South Wales Lancers’ Association John Howells said the Parramatta band cost only about $1000 year.
‘‘I’m disgusted at what is happening,’’ the retired serviceman said.
‘‘Regimental bands, service communities large and small across the nation, are a glue that binds the military and the community.
‘‘(They are) very important in times where our armed forces are deployed defending and promoting freedom in many theatres, (such as) Afghanistan, Timor and the Solomon Islands where the Lancers regularly have a squadron deployed.
‘‘They are of particular importance considering the need to provide musical support at ANZAC Centenary activities over the next few years.
Many of band members are themselves serving soldiers, or have retired from the armed forces but still feel the need to serve.
Berowra MP Phillip Ruddock is at least one federal politician in step with the regimental band.
‘‘It is a vital link between the community and the military,’’ he told Parliament.
‘‘And so at this important time of ongoing operations, when one is seeking to get people to support the military, when one is seeking to recruit people for the reserves, this is the visible face that people see and can relate to.’’
-Lancer Barracks were built in Parramatta between 1818 and 1820;
-Eventually they were occupied by the NSW Lancers;
-The Royal NSW Lancers were formed as the NSW Cavalry Reserves in 1885;
-Designated the NSW Lancers in 1894, and created Royal in 1935;
-The Regiment sent a squadron to fight as mounted lancers in the South African War;
-Formed from its peace-time members to fight in the World War I at Gallipoli and Palestine;
-Fought as a Tank Regiment in World War II in New Guinea and Borneo; -With 21 Honours the regiment is Australia’s most decorated unit;
-It is currently a Light Cavalry Regiment in the Australian Army Reserve.