Leading republican Peter FitzSimons, in his own words, delivered a “rant” against the Australian National Flag in his column in The Sun Herald, “Flag’s up! We’re in like Flint” (30/9). He returned to the subject the following week in “Tired old argument” (6/9), saying he had been “overwhelmed with responses most of which were positive.”
He had come to the defence of the NSW Premier Nathan Rees who in his National Flag Day message had called for a new constitution and a new flag. Mr FitzSimons says our National Flag is "ludicrous for a free standing multicultural nation".
Mr. FitzSimons dismissed those who criticised the Premier as the “usual suspects…curmudgeonly royal grovellors (Hullo Professor Flint)”.
He claims the movement for flag change has now "gone mainstream". This is because The Age supports the campaign. Many Melbourne readers would draw the opposite conclusion, pointing to The Age's declining circulation and influence.
In the meantime, The Age, with the true courage of its convictions, continues to appear under a version of the Royal Coat of Arms.
Incidentally, don't try to find Mr. FitzSimons' column on the internet. The newspaper doesn't post it there .
A mischievous colleague quips, “ You can understand why.”
The next week the newspaper published three letters in reply , one in support and two against, perhaps indicating the ratio of supportive to opposing mail.
Rosemary O’ Brien (Hands off our flag”) of Georges Hall, NSW, wrote that “it’s not only Professor David Flint who thinks our flag is a pretty wonderful piece of cloth.”
“When Premier Rees rather off-handedly suggested its possible replacement all hell broke loose, not from Flintites, but the young, the middle ages and the superior-aged.”
“Using this current storm to ridicule an old enemy is to carelessly distance yourself from the prevailing winds.”
Janet Crlk of Bateau Bay, NSW, said: “Peter FitzSimons is at it once again. Here in the midst of a recession with the cost of living going through the roof, climate change and war, and he advocates new constitutional arrangements and a new flag.”
“’A multicultural nation of the 21st century’? Did he ever stop to think where the majority came from? They came from countries where republicanism or dictators reigned supreme.”
“ Why did they come? They came because they saw Australia, a Commonwealth country under the Westminster system, as safe, secure and law-abiding, offering a future for themselves and their children.”
“I am neither a curmudgeon nor a royal groveller. I’m intelligent enough to know I’m well off under our present system.”
….Peter FitzSimons considered response: ”you idiots”…
Mr. FitzSimons last major entry into republicanism and flag changing was as the person who conceived the Mate for a Head of State campaign, which failed spectacularly.
He dismisses those who oppose him on flag change as “idiots.”
He says that of all the “ludicrous” reasons for keeping our Australian National Flag, “ the most intellectually unsustainable one is ‘because our soldiers fought under the flag’” .
Unlike some ultra flag changers who pretend our soldiers did not fight under the flag, he accepts the historical truth. But, he says, they weren’t fighting to “preserve Australia in aspic”.
…the flag at Changi..
The fact is some of our soldiers went to extraordinary lengths for the flag. When Singapore was finally liberated from the Japanese in 1945, the very first flag to fly over the island was the Australian Flag.
This flag had been hidden in the terrible POW camp at Changi. You can imagine the risk of doing that, and what would have happened if the guards had found it.
This is something which the Mr. FitzSimons should ponder.
That Flag is now framed and held at the headquarters of the Returned and Services League, Canberra, with this plaque: "This important artefact was concealed in Changi Prison by Captain Strawbridge MBE, from 1942-1945. It was raised over the gates of the prison, the day of formal liberation in September 1945."
And Mr. FitzSimons wants us to abandon and dishonour this Flag.