An Australian Greens Party official removed the Australian National Flag from a rostrum – leaving the Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander flags in place – shortly before party leader Adam Bandt gave a press conference in Sydney yesterday.
FILE PHOTO: The Australian National Flag at full mast alongside the Aboriginal Flag and the Torres Strait Islander Flag at Darwin’s Larrakeyah Barracks. Photo by Leading Seaman James Whittle.
When asked about the absence of the Australian flag behind him, Mr Bandt said the Australian National Flag was “hurtful” to Indigenous Australians and invoked racism.
“For many people, this flag represents dispossession and the lingering pains of colonisation,” Mr Bandt said.
Flying the Australian National Flag in a position inferior to any other flag is against official protocol – and highly insulting to many Australians, especially those who serve and have served, not just in the military.
Among those to query whether Mr Bandt’s ‘stunt’ was tantamount to treason was the Veteran Support Force – an initiative of former Army major turned politician Heston Russell.
In a statement titled “Is this Treason…”, Veteran Support Force said “Adam Bandt’s actions have brought outrage from across the veteran community and families calling for his immediate apology”.
VSF also called for “actions to be taken by the government and/or the Governor-General to ensure that this disrespect is held accountable”.
Speaking in a television interview, Minister for Government Services Bill Shorten said the move only encouraged division.
“Antics like this… turns more people off than turns them on,” Mr shorten said.
“He’s counterproductive to the cause. At the end of the day, Australians want us to try and work together.”
Ironically – and proving that stunts can backfire – the subject matter or messaging of Mr Bandt’s press conference is nowhere to be found on Google.