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Australians divided over centenary celebrations

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To most Sydney siders, it was a magical moment- a majestic fleet of tall ships elegantly floating into sunny Sydney Harbour. But to some, including Greens MP Lee Rhiannon, it was enough to make them sea sick.

Either way – The International Fleet Review is unlike anything the Australian public has seen before.

This event has been one of the biggest public celebrations in Australia since the Olympic Games in 2000.

The review, held between October 3 and 11, commemorates 100 years since the Royal Australian Navy fleet first entered the Sydney Harbour. Joined at one stage by the Royal Prince Harry himself, Sydney celebrators have had the chance to participate in a variety of activities, including tours of the warships, a dazzling fireworks display and a rare defense showcase held at Darling Harbour’s Exhibition Centre as part of the Pacific 2013 International Maritime Conference.

The Pacific 2013 showcase is an international initiative that allows commercial maritime and naval defence industries to promote their capabilities.

But as inquisitive onlookers milled around the assorted army displays this morning, a group of angry protesters congregated outside the exhibition centre.

The review certainly hasn’t been a cheap affair, costing Australian taxpayers around 40 million dollars. Nonetheless, the overall reaction to the event seems to suggest that in the minds of most Australians, the gains far outweigh the losses. The celebrations have attracted more than 1 million visitors to Sydney and has been said to have put the nation back on the map.


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