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Tuesday, 29 April 1902

Mr THOMSON (North Sydney) - I am one of those who think that the design selected for the Australian flag is decidedly unsuitable. Looking at the flag in the distance, as it was exhibited for some time on the Exhibition-building, the large star on the dark ground looks like a hole, and certainly a much better selection might have been made. What I particularly object to, however, is that we seem to be committed to this flag, nolensvolens. The choice of a flag for a people for all time is an important matter, and yet the Parliament of the Commonwealth have not had a voice in the selection, or in the approval of the selection made by the committee. We have decided many less important matters.

Mr Barton - Yes : but does the honorable member think that that is the kind of thing that ought to be submitted to the judgment of' Parliament ?

Mr THOMSON - I think that after the committee had made their selection it would have been wise to obtain the approval of Parliament.

Mr Barton - I would rather take a vote of censure than do that. The honorable member seems to have a strange misconception of the functions of Government and Parliament.

Mr THOMSON - I have no strange misconception. Other flags have been approved by the representatives of the people. If the Ministry had retained the selection in their own hands they would have represented the Parliament, which in turn represents the people ; but they have delegated their powers to four or five persons, to whose selection we are to be committed for all time. We have been committed behind our backs in a way that we never anticipated. This is not a question qf money, but of national sentiment, and a national decision has been given without any reference whatever to the national sentiment. If the Prime Minister, on his visit to Great Britain, can do anything to secure a better selection than that already made he will be acting in the best interests of Australia.

Mr Barton - I shall have far more important affairs to look after.

Mr THOMSON - I believe that the flag of Australia will be flying when many of the important affairs referred to by thePrime Minister will have sunk' into the insignificance of the past. The Prime Minister cannot on his visit exercise his mind and his activities over any matters that will be of more importance in the future, although I admit that there are many matters of more importance for the present.

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