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Government rejects motion to hang Aboriginal flag in parliament during NAIDOC week, claims it’s inappropriate

Surprise, surprise: the Australian Government just voted against Labor’s motion to hang the Aboriginal flag in parliament for NAIDOC week.

Even though we are in the middle of NAIDOC week, a motion to hang the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags in parliament has been rejected in the senate.

Labor pushed for the two flags to be hung along with the Australian flag, but the government and cross-benchers voted against the motion 28-29, claiming the only “appropriate” flag to be hung in the senate is the Australian flag.

Of course, the fact that the decision comes in the middle of NAIDOC week, an annual week devoted to celebrating the history, achievements, and culture of Indigenous peoples, only rubs salt in the wound.

Liberal senator Anne Ruston defended the decision saying, “There are many places and circumstances to appropriately display the flags of our nations, including the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags. 

The government believes that the Australian national flag, that represents all Australians, is the only appropriate flag to be flown in the Senate chamber.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flags are national flags of Australia, recognised under the Flags Act 1953. All three flags are flying outside Parliament House during NAIDOC Week, yet not inside the two houses of parliament.

The request is not the only one to be made in the last week, with New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian calling for a change to the lyrics of the Australian National Anthem.

Berejiklian, who doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to Indigenous affairs, believes a change from “young and free” to “we are one and free” is needed to better reflect Australia’s Indigenous history.

Gladys Berejiklian
Photo: Brook Mitchell/Getty Images

Whilst Ms Berejiklian’s intentions may (or may not) be well and good, we can’t help but think a little more needs to be done to reflect Indigenous history than a simple word change.

It may be NAIDOC week, but sadly the Australian Government is making little effort to acknowledge our Indigenous history in a time that we should be celebrating it.