Fly the flag for true Aussie mates
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Wednesday, 01 February 2006
 

On the eve of Australia Day, the Melbourne Herald Sun, Australia's highest circulating newspaper, published the views of a young man on the latest republican campaign.

The author is Brett Hogan, who is Victorian Convenor of ACM, and whose views were also sought on the campaign on Channel Seven's Sunrise programme.

The text of his opinion piece, "Fly the flag  for true Aussie mates" follows. 

"On Thursday we will all be celebrating the 218th anniversary of the settlement of Australia by the First Fleet and the birth of one of the most tolerant, highly developed and successful countries in the world.

However, the Australian Republican Movement appears to again be trying to turn the build-up to Australia Day into a controversial political event.

In recent years, the republic has had more launches than a NASA rocket and enjoyed not much more success.

Last year the ARM announced it intended to politicise the Commonwealth Games to push for an Australian president.

Last month a former republican movement chairman even called Australia ``a pigsty . . . a backwater . . . (and) a racist and inward-looking country''.

Now it is telling us to wear yellow ribbons and trying to hijack the word ``mate'' for its own political purposes.

It also used Blinky Bill to push the republic during the 1999 referendum campaign.

Maybe next year it will claim Vegemite is republican too.

Well, I've got a message for these republicans -- if you want to crash someone's birthday party to talk politics, then go crash your own and leave the rest of us out of it.

It is also pretty tasteless to use a coloured ribbon to push a political agenda.

Ribbon days are generally used by legitimate community organisations to recognise loss or a serious health issue -- such as pink ribbon day for cancer, red ribbon day for AIDS and blue ribbon day for police officers killed on duty.

Not to mention yellow ribbon day to commemorate youth suicide.

Australia Day is a time to celebrate who we are as a people, our national symbols and achievements.

While people will have different ideas about how to do this, it is an occasion to debate the need for local, state and federal authorities to fly more Australian flags.

Nothing sums up what it means to be Australian better than our colourful national flag.

The Union Jack symbolises our history, language and system of government, the federation star represents our structure of government and the Southern Cross stands for our bright future and our place in the world.

The huge flag at the top of Elizabeth St in Melbourne is a striking symbol, for visitors and for locals.

I have recently noticed two Australian flags flying in the middle of Russell St and think this adds presence and colour to what is often a maligned part of the city.

But I support recent moves, championed in the Herald Sun, to show our flag even more prominently.

We should be encouraging lawmakers to fly more flags in the street, from public buildings and landmarks such as Flinders St station, Federation Square and the Museum.

A couple of large Australian flags on the Bolte Bridge would help to bring a little colour to what is a highly functional but nevertheless dull, grey, concrete mass.

While Australia is a democracy, and people are entitled to campaign for or against laws, our system of government or the government itself, this week is not the time.

If republicans want to change the Constitution then it is up to them to come up with a republican model

that works as well as the current system and sell it to the public.

No amount of ribbonry will hide the fact that the republican emperor has no clothes.

Brett Hogan,Victorian convenor, Australians for Constitutional Monarchy "