January 23

Flag and Australia Day under republican attack

Republicans are continuing their campaign against the flag.

So full marks to Bronwyn Bishop, MHR, who has announced she will introduce a private member’s bill to make the burning of our flag a criminal offence. As it should be.

A few years ago, The Sydney Morning Herald, on an Australia Day, plastered its front page with mainly ghastly new flags. Now it has a story about a new flag, which features the Southern Cross and a boomerang. 

The report, by Joel Gibson and Tim Dick ,appeared on the prominent back page feature, Stay in Touch, on 20 January, 2006. It began “Please welcome Fred Rieben, all the way from Perth.”

“A one-man, self-appointed committee for redesigning the Australian flag, the American-born former window washer has sold his business back home and headed to the emerald city this week. He’s walking the streets on Australia Day and for the coming month, drumming up support for his flag – which he calls Southern Cross and Boomerang.

Mr Rieben has been annoying people in Sydney’s streets by waving his ugly flag in their faces. An elderly man, he affects the argot of the very young, including the superfluous insertion of the word “like” into his conversation : "This is, like, the hottest sticker in Perth. Almost everybody in the western suburbs of Perth has seen this."

The reporters called J. B. O’Reilly’s, a pub in West Leederville, Perth, to check Fred’s claims, and a co-owner, Shelley Davies,([email protected]) confirmed it had been flying from the roof for years and had had a great response – except from the odd monarchist.

"We fly it because we’re republicans," she said.

Our Flag is of course an intrinsic part of the Australian heritage. That it includes the Union flag is no more indication of colonial subservience than the fact that our national language is English.

The Union flag not only reminds us of the origins of modern Australia. It also recalls all of the six pillars of this nation. The first four came with the settlement the rule of law, the English Language , our oldest institution , the Crown, and our Judeo Christian values. ( The other pillars are responsible government under the Westminster system, the inevitable result of the British settlement, and Federation which was all our own work)

People sometimes forget that the flag has a strong religious significance, which permaetaes our nation.

The most approved part of the constitution draft in the 1890’s was that the Act impementing it record, as the Preamble to the Constitution Act does, that it was made "humbly relying upon the blessings of Almighty God".

One of our readers recently reminded me of this aspect of the foundation of our nation and our flag. He asked when I was going to point out one of our flag’s most powerful strengths.

This is, as he wrote, that “the most powerful symbol in the world flies freely on our national symbol. I talk of the cross of St.George…….red because it reflects the blood of Jesus Christ and the cross because reflects the cross of Calvary on which Christ was crucified. If this was more widely known, there wouldn’t be a republican anywhere who would have the courage to oppose our nation’s flag.” And of course, our flag also includes the cross of St Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland, and the cross of St. Patrick , the patron saint of Ireland the flag.

In the meantime, republicans on yet another municipal council have attacked yet another aspect of our heritage.

Why don’t they just concentrate on the rubbish, the noise, parking, lower rates and all those things we elected them and pay them to do – which some of them don’t do very well.

No one elected these people to rampage through our heritage. None of them promised to be flag shredders and to get rid of Australia Day at the election. According Mark Scala (“Australia Day stand”) in the Sydney Daily Telegraph of 21 January, 2006, 

Leichhardt Council’s spokesman Shane McArdle said it’s been the council’s policy since 1988 to ignore Australia Day as a mark of respect.

"It’s Invasion Day for them and that’s how council views Australia Day," he told The Glebe newspaper this week.

Yesterday he told The Daily Telegraph that in 1988 the council banned Australia Day festivities as a mark of respect to indigenous people. "That’s the view successive councils have taken."

While the Mayor denies that this is Council policy, other councillors say it is! One councillor called for the name of the day to be changed.

We are still waiting to see what she wants. Is it Invasion Day?

In the meantime, we wish Bronwyn Bishop well, and hope the politicians allow a conscience vote on this.

Some of them weren’t too happy when John Howard legislated to give us a vote on any flag change, but the flag changing politicians who wanted to change it in the nineties without consuting us didn’t have the moral courage to vote against this.

Link to Daily Telegraph


Australia Day, Australian Flag, Fred Rieben, Sydney Morning Herald

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