November 17, 2014
CLANCY OVERELL | Editor | Clancy@betootaadvocate.com
YESTERDAY’S dramatic display of flag burning in Brisbane’s CBD by Aboriginal activists has once again sparked a debate usually reserved for Australia Day:
IS IT TIME TO CHANGE THE AUSTRALIAN FLAG?
Referred to by yesterdays protestors as the ‘Australian Rag’, the current flag appears to be as unpopular as ever – with both religious and Aboriginal rights groups working together to pitch a new flag, one that they feel represents “Australian minorities first, white Australians second”.
Headlines were made internationally yesterday afternoon as it was revealed that the ‘troublemaking’ Indigenous protestors were “intentionally creating a scene in a hope for international coverage” during the G20 summit in Brisbane.
The protests were apparently in relation to Indigenous rights as protesters at Roma Street parklands in Brisbane city centre raised their fists in the air in ‘Black Power’ salutes while chanting
“RESIST, REVIVE, DECOLONIZE”.
This is not the first time that an episode of flag burning has sparked the ‘new flag’ debate.
In 2012, the forecourts of Parliament house was host to a similar scene, where a crowd of protestors, including children, burned an Australian flag and vowed to keep protesting against political leaders during a display of anger directed at both political parties.
A 15-year-old Aboriginal girl, alongside notable activists, proudly helped light the flag outside Parliament House.
The girl, whose family asked that she not be named, said her relatives had been “murdered and raped” and she hated the symbol of the Union Jack.
“It was important to me to do that (burning),”
“I don’t want to raise kids under this sort of environment under the Union Jack.”
The 2012 protest was used as an opportunity to re-enter the debate by Ausflag, a not-for-profit republican group dedicated to removing the Union Jack from our current flag. The Ausflag directors include businesswoman Janet Holmes a Court, former Australian of The Year Patrick McGorry, television journalist Ray Martin and author and former Wallaby Peter FitzSimons.
In regards to yesterday’s scene, Peter Fitzsimons has come to the defence of the activists
“I don’t blame them, there are a lot of people in this country that aren’t represented by the current flag. Namely our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander citizens, as well as our growing Islamic community. These people need to be represented before the rest of us.”
However, it isn’t just the Indigenous community and the Ausflag directors that want to see the flag changed. Australia’s ever growing and increasingly powerful Islamic community want change as well.
Keith Stevenson, and man that was arrested in the 2012 Islamic Rights protest in Sydney, has also spoken out about the possibility of a new flag.
“Islamic Australians are ready for a new flag as well, we will gladly join our Indigenous brothers as well as Fitzy and Ray Martin in seeing this happen. A new flag would make us, the minority, happy.”
All three groups have since worked together on a new flag that represents the interests of both Indigenous people, islamic people as well as Australian Republicans. The proposed flag shows a slight remodel to what Australian currently know, the southern cross is moved to the top left corner and the Union Jack is removed. New inclusions include the Islamic symbol of a crescent moon and yellow circle that has been borrowed from the Aboriginal flag.
“It’s our way of paying respect to the people that were here before us, both black and white people, but also including ourselves in the mix. Islam is one of Australia’s fastest growing religions and this new flag represents that statistic.