Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Hawke government playing a game of hide and seek about its attitude to Australian flag



Download PDFDownload PDF

THE SENATE

2/5

PRESS RELEASE

SENATOR PETER DURACK, Q C DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION IN THE SENATE

SH A D O W MINISTER FOR RESOURCES A N D ENERGY

29/85

"The Hawke Government is playing a game of hide and seek about its attitude to the Australian Flag.

"Several leading members of the Government are clearly in favour of changing the Flag and the Government has recently contributed to the cost of a competition for the design of a new Flag."

Senator Durack was speaking at a luncheon at the Swan Cottage Homes in Bentley today.

"The Government seems to be encouraging the minority view that the Flag should be changed for the bicentenary in 1988. However all the polls show that the majority of Australians wish to retain the present Flag.

"Because of the uncertainty of the Government’s stance on this issue I introduced a Bill in the Senate to ensure that no change could be made to the National Flag without the support of the people at a referendum.

"That Bill was passed by the Senate early this year and immediately introduced into the House of Representatives.

"During the debate in the Senate the Minister representing the Government said that the Government did not oppose the Bill. Nor did the Australian Democrats. It was passed with the unanimous support of the Senate.

"The Government has so far not made time available for this Bill to be debated in the House of Representatives. This can only leave an uneasy feeling that the Government does not want the Bill to become law because it wants to keep its options open.

"Thousands of people have signed petitions in support of the Bill. The Government should bring it on for debate as soon as possible. Its continuing failure to do so and its financial support for moves to change the Flag are most suspicious.

"It should be remembered that the Hawke Government changed the National Anthem overnight by issuing a proclamation without any warning or discussion.

"It certainly did not seek the views of the people before it did that.

"Fortunately our Flag is proclaimed in the existing Flags Act and can only be changed officially by an amendment to the Act. However Acts can be quickly and easily changed by Parliament without the people even knowing, much less having a say.

"It is imperative that this law be amended as soon as possible to require such a change to be made only by a referendum." PERTH CONTACT: (09) 325 8005 27 August 1985