BEST OF 2022: Bandt raises flag myths for Australians to consider

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Lectern with flags

The scene of Adam Bandt’s press conference, with the relegated Australian flag. Photo: Twitter.

Year in Review: Region Media is revisiting some of the best Opinion articles of 2022. Here’s what got you talking, got you angry and got you thinking in 2022. Today, Ian Bushnell starts a conversation he says the nation needs to have.

Australians have never been a particularly fervent nation of flag wavers, being rightly sceptical of overt displays of patriotism.

That doesn’t mean that people not so enamoured of the current flag are any less loyal than those who drape themselves with it in public.

Greens MP Adam Bandt reignited the debate about whether the Australian flag, with its prominent Union Jack in the corner, reflects the nation we have become or respected the First Nations who fell under British dominion.

He is refusing to stand before it during press conferences, attracting derision from conservatives and warnings from the likes of the Prime Minister that it was a divisive act that did not serve a nation in need of coming together.

Even First Nation’s representatives are undecided about his stand.

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It’s also probably seen as a distraction from the considerable number of thorny issues the government has to contend with, even though it now has an Assistant Minister for the Republic.

Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating famously folded the flag so it would not show the Union Jack.

Later he said: “I do not believe that the symbols and the expression of the full sovereignty of Australian nationhood can ever be complete while we have a flag with the flag of another country on the corner of it.”

It was Liberal PM John Howard who raised the flag to a new status. His government passed legislation in 1998 to ensure that it could only be changed if the electorate approved an alternative design and that the existing flag should always be one of the choices offered at a national vote.

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Calling it Australia’s oldest national symbol, Howard also promoted the Anzac myth more than any other politician. He turned the annual commemoration and Australia Day into outpourings of nationalistic fervour that required plenty of flags.

It is often argued that Australians fought under the flag, the Blue Ensign created after Federation, but in truth, it was mostly the Union Jack or, at sea, the Australian Red Ensign. In fact, it wasn’t until 1954 that Australia adopted the Blue Ensign as the national flag.

Howard understood the power of symbols and while he said the legislation would mean the flag did not belong to any one political party, he knew in the lead-up to the 1999 referendum on the Republic that it would continue to tie Australia to Britain and hopefully the conservative values he espoused.

The result is that there are now plenty of people who will appropriate the flag for their causes to link them to what they see as the national interest.

From Cronulla to the Canberra convoys, the flag has been a prominent feature, and sometimes not used honourably.

It also means that the flag has become more accepted and enmeshed in the national identity, and so much harder to change.

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Mr Bandt can be accused of grandstanding, maybe fuelled by his party’s relative success at the recent election, but his action does raise some questions that bear some thinking about.

Why do politicians have to stand before a clutch of flags to tell us things? Does it make them and what they say any more important?

Can a flag that includes the Union Jack, itself a symbol under question in non-English areas of the UK, be a symbol of unity in such a multicultural country?

Then there is the continuing confusion overseas when the Australian and New Zealand flags are flown, not to mention the bunch of other Commonwealth countries that also use a Union Jack in their designs.

Of all the issues confronting the country, the flag is not high on the list.

But it would be useful if people put aside knee-jerk reactions, didn’t accept the mythmaking around the flag and thought about whether it really did represent all Australians.

Whatever design it may be, the less nationalistic waving and draping, the better.

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Just get the Hammer & Sickle – that will satisfy Bandt and his lefty crowd

I guess we could always go for the Boxing Kangaroo … or would that get the Animal Justice League offside?

We might need a change of flag at some point. But I don’t agree with what Adam Bandt did. It’s the sort of behaviour you’d expect of a woke actor at the Oscars … which fewer and fewer people are watching these days.

Keen to show how much you despise Australia? Desperate to show your woke credentials? What other symbols of Australia can we Greens take offence at?
The Hills hoist, an obvious symbol of far right Christian conquest across suburbia.
Vegemite, reminiscent of blackface paste.
Thongs, an outrageous reminder of white imperialists trampling over sovereign lands and beaches never ceded.
BBQs, carbon dioxide emission rituals by climate change deniers on Invasion Day that contribute to melting polar caps, rising ocean levels and rainforest destruction.
Golden Gaytime ice cream disrespects and fails to acknowledge the lifestyle choices of transgender non binary LGBQI+ people.
Lamingtons, deeply offensive to indigenous people as symbols of white on black oppression, each bite a reminder of past massacres.

Capital Retro5:13 pm 27 Jun 22

You forgot the cheese named the same as the man who produced it.

Who remembers when the Greens were “tree-huggers” and only cared about the climate?

The actions and statements made by Adam Bandt and the likes of Lydia Thorpe (who has stated that she has “infiltrated” the Parliament) clearly show us that the Greens are not a Climate party. They are the party of left-wing extremists prepared to take on any anti-establishment agenda.

Yes, kenbehrens, I remember.
I saw the interview with Thorpe on The Project and thought she did far more damage to the first people’s cause than Alan Jones and Andrew Bolt could do during their most deranged rascist rants.
As HiddenDragon said below, it’s a strange the way to court the vote of the majority of the electors who will be required to bring about a change in the Constitution.

HiddenDragon7:27 pm 24 Jun 22

One way or another, the federal Greens seem to be doing everything they can to alienate the people whose votes will determine the fate of the voice to parliament referendum.

Tempting as it might be to put that down to the self-serving rat cunning of a protest party, the more likely explanation is just the perpetual petulance of those living in a state of perpetual adolescence.

Vinson1Bernie4:27 pm 24 Jun 22

What next – he will thumb his nose at the High Court or parliamentary procedure or respect for alternative views – this guy has to be stopped otherwise progressives, like the Chiness, infiltrate gradually – he is taking his chances while he has some leverage which may only last till the next energy crisis

Pay the Greens in Zimbabwean dollars. Average MP salary is $217,000 – turn that in to Zimbawean dollars Z$217,000 = 868.19082 Australian Dollars. That’s what they are worth. They don’t respect Australia

Yeah, Futureproof, good luck with that. Keep up the QAnon raving … I’m sure there’s some imbecile out there that hints you make sense

Just Saying. I feel your outrage, I mean you being on the Greens payroll and all. Lattes are expensive

My first thought on seeing your last rant, was ‘where do I start’, Futureproof?
Then I realised that having a battle of wits with you is a waste of time – as you are only half armed.
No I’m not paid by the Greens (where that comes from only you would know) – but you think anyone to the left of you is a Green. Well that means there are an awful lot of Greens then, when compared to your hard right QAnon leanings.
PS I’m a flat white drinker

Well JustSaying, I’m not sure I’m hard right. I think Albanese is doing a pretty good job, after Morrison, who performed lousily IMHO. I despise the Greens, but did you know that I subscribe to a number of EV channels, own a $12k electric bike and I also drink lattes! Also, I’m looking at getting solar and batteries after I peruse the minefield of options on solar quotes. Did I say I despise the Greens? Yes I did

Capital Retro11:48 am 27 Jun 22

Morrison had the media on his back 24/7. Let’s wait a little longer for a rating on Albanese.

Wow, Futureproof – now you have completely thrown me as I can’t work out if you are a hypocrite or just a confused and conflicted individual.

You accuse me of being on the Greens payroll – despite the fact that I have never expressed any Greens affiliation, yet you (commendably) act in a very “green” way – subscribe to EV channels (presumably to keep abreast of developments), have an electric bike and are investigating getting renewable (solar) energy.

You think poorly of politicians commenting “I just can’t stand politicians – they cause all of the problems” – yet you credit Albanese with doing a “pretty good job”.

You think the Greens are “Rich zealots who can afford solar, batteries and EVs” – yet as stated, you have an electric bike and you are investigating solar with battery back-up.

You derided a tv report stating “solar panels will prevent you from suffering a blackout” then in the same sentence contradicted yourself and offered the qualification “unless you have batteries” – yet you are investigating the very technology you disparage.

Like I said – wow, Futureproof.

JustSaying – good to see I’m keeping you on your toes. You are right – I have a low opinion of politicians, and as I have said many times, I think they are low life (insert adjective here). Albanese being one of those adjectives, seems to be doing a slightly better job than ‘ol mate Cronulla supporter, even if he is giving Catriona Rountree a run for her money at being Australia’s number one tourist. I do feel that many Greens are indeed rich zealots. I saved up for my electric bike, just as I am saving up for the solar panels/batteries. As for that report I mentioned about solar panels preventing you from suffering a blackout – well that was on Sky. There was no mention of battery backup.

Yes, I am interested in technology, I just don’t like the direction of the Tesla fan boys (before you chip me – I have said EV fanboys in the past) that $90k for an EV is just petty cash for the average wage earner.

Sorry for labelling you a Green. That is indeed an insult. I only drink lattes, because you get more milk than a cappuccino.

Futureproof, not much I can take issue with there … but I’m sure you’d be disappointed if I didn’t try *wink*

While I agree that the $90k+ price tag of Teslas is out of reach of most of us (I certainly won’t be going near one at that price), as someone else commented, early adopters bear the brunt of the cost of technological advancement. However, I still think you have this obsession that anyone who believes in the need for more Climate Change action is a looney Green. I imagine a number of Tesla owners (who obviously are better off then you and I) would not identify as Greens, but bought them because they could, because they “stand out” (look at me!) and probably because there is a positive impact on the environment.

Oh, and I didn’t say the (Sky) report mentioned batteries – I said it was you that mentioned them.

And thanks for retracting the label … never was a great fan of the Greens (socks and sandals are never a good look) but Bandt’s and Thorpe’s grandstanding has made me even less so.

PS You get even more milk in a flat white than a latte because there’s no froth 🙂

“Of all the issues confronting the country, the flag is not high on the list.”

I agree.

Which is what makes Bandt and the Greens position so ridiculous and divisive.

Whether he or anyone else like it, the flag is a representative symbol of our country.

Thus, to refuse to stand with it, is a rejection of our country.

Argue that you don’t like the flag, argue that you think it should be changed, but Bandt’s actions were horrible, both from actual and perceived notions of what his party stands for.

I am not really interested in what people think it represents, or fails to, just this: “Whatever design it may be, the less nationalistic waving and draping, the better”.
All it really needs to be is sufficiently different from those of other nations, which it isn’t now.

phydeaux – if we change the flag, what happens in five years time when some other aggrieved groups want it changed? You think that won’t happen?

You mean, things can change more than once? Quelle horreur!
Not having a flag could solve that — only country with a bare flagpole, and it saves on the cost of having someone run it up and down. So long as the flagpole was a native species.
Cheers. I’m here to help.

Stephen Saunders8:30 am 24 Jun 22

Like our head of state, the flag is an unambiguous symbol of white British Christian supremacy. And yet, we bray incessantly of being the “world’s most successful multicultural nation”.

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