The government has voted down a proposal to raise the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags in the Senate, right in the middle of NAIDOC Week, of all times.
The motion came from Aboriginal Labor Senators Malarndirri McCarthy and Pat Dodson and was backed by the Greens. However, the Coalition wouldn’t have it, and the motion failed by just one vote.
“The three Black Senators respectfully request for the Aboriginal flag to be flown in the spirit of NAIDOC Week and the colonial oppression reared its ugly, violent head,” Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe later tweeted.
She added that the “LNP have absolutely no shame.”
Federal Parliament refuse to fly the Aboriginal Flag. Happy Naidoc week ???? vote happening now. LNP have absolutely no shame.— Lidia Thorpe (@lidia__thorpe) November 10, 2020
McCarthy and Labor MP Linda Burney also called out the decision on Twitter, and particularly slammed the timing.
“The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags are national flags of Australia, recognised since 1995 under the Flags Act 1953,” McCarthy said.
“All three flags are flying outside Parliament House during NAIDOC Week, yet not inside the two houses of Parliament.”
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flags are national flags of Australia, recognised since 1995 under the Flags Act 1953. All three flags are flying outside Parliament House during NAIDOC Week, yet not inside the two houses of Parliament. #shame #auspol pic.twitter.com/BmtUzhzOyF— malarndirri mccarthy (@Malarndirri19) November 10, 2020
The motion would have seen both the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags – which are recognised by the government as official flags of Australia – be permanently displayed in the Senate alongside the red, white and blue Australian flag within three weeks.
It would’ve been just one way to acknowledge the First Nations people whose land Australia was built on.
Social Services Minister Anne Ruston shut down the proposal by saying the Senate wasn’t the right place to fly these flags.
“There are many places and circumstances to appropriately display the flags of our nation, including the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags,” she said.
“The government believes that the Australian national flag which represents all Australians is the only appropriate flag to be flown in the Senate chamber.”
this was the explanation from Liberal senator Anne Ruston, for voting against the motion to fly the Aboriginal and Torrest Strait Islander flags in the Senate
she said the government believed the national flag was the only one “appropriate” to fly in the Senate pic.twitter.com/RQMXcBROKF
— Josh Butler (@JoshButler) November 10, 2020
Her comment provoked a passionate response from many Senators who wanted to raise the flags.
“Can I remind you all that we are on stolen land and the Aboriginal flag represents the oldest continually living culture in the world,” Thorpe later said in the Senate.
“My people have been here, Aboriginal people have been here, Wurundjeri and Ngunnawal people have been here for thousands and thousands and thousands of generations.
“So the Aboriginal flag is what we identify with, what we connect with, just as you connect with the colonial flag that you love and you appeal to.”
The theme for NAIDOC Week this year is #AlwaysWasAlwaysWillBe. The Senate sits on stolen Wiradjuri/Ngambri/Ngunnawal land, and yet these Coalition Senators voted AGAINST a motion from 3 Blak Senators to permanently display our flag in the spirit of NAIDOC Week. pic.twitter.com/DK3yewwjUr— Lidia Thorpe (@lidia__thorpe) November 10, 2020
In the end, the motion was voted down 28-29.
More to come.