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Thursday, 27 October 1949

Mr CALWELL - The honorable member for Parramatta has- asked why I saw fit to minimize the importance of the Union Jack at a mass naturalization ceremony. I did not minimize the Union Jack or the Australian flag. What I did,, and what I have always done, was to get the biggest Australian flag that I could get to cover as much as possible of the wall of the building behind the dais occupied by the judge in order to impress the new Australians with the importance of the flag of this country and. in order further to impress them with- the fact that they were entering membership' of the British Commonwealth of Nations through the gateway of Australian citizenship. In displaying the Australian flag, about which the honorable member does not seem to be enthusiastic, I displayed every portion of it, including the corner that is occupied by the Union Jack. The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for External Affairs, who made the speech of welcome to the new Australians, dilated at length on the importance of the flag and each section of it. The article on which the honorable member hung his question, after expressing ill-founded criticism, gave strangely enough a verbatim account of what my colleague had said. That is the answer to the allegation about minimizing, the importance of the Union Jack. Asa matter of fact, in the Great Hall of the University of Sydney, which I visited for the first time on Saturday, aud which was used for the first time in the history of the university for a function other than one associated with the university, there is, I am told, a big biblical scroll and painting on the far wall. I did not see it, because I had no hand or part in making the arrangements for the function, but, at one side of that biblical scroll, there was a small Union Jack and, on the other side, there was an Australian red ensign. The honorable member did not criticize the fact that the Australian red ensign was covered. He directed his attention to the Onion Jack. I put up the biggest flag that I could find. It was the Australian flag. That was the important thing to do. It was also the right thing to do. The Union Jack is an integral part of the Australian flag. We emphasize the importance of Australia, and we equally emphasize the importance of Australia's continued membership of the British Commonwealth of Nations in our flag. The Government party in this Parliament is the one party which in every way is doing its utmost to maintain the British Commonwealth of Nations. We do not desire to sink it, as do some honorable members opposite, over petrol and other matters.

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