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Bill to protect our national flag to be introduced tomorrow: National Flag Day.

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INTRODUCED TOMORROW - NATIONAL FLAG DAY Tuesday 2 September 2008 Senator Guy Barnett will introduce a private members Bill in the Senate tomorrow on National Flag Day, Wednesday 3 September, to make it an offence to wilfully burn, destroy or desecrate official flags of Australia.

"Our national flag is a profound expression of who we are and the values we stand for. Most Australians in this modern day would be proud to wave and show off our flag. For it to be desecrated is an insult to our national pride and heritage, and in particular our veterans who fought under our flag," Senator Barnett said today.

It is illegal to deface or destroy coins and a ten dollar note in Australia but it is currently not illegal to destroy the flag.

"The penalty for a breach would be community service orders, to place offenders with veterans groups such as the RSL, or alternatively a maximum $220 fine. The Bill will make it an offence to destroy not only the Australian Flag but also the Aboriginal flag and other official flags proclaimed by the Federal Government.

"The law should and does have an educative role. It is particularly important for young and new Australians to understand the precious and solemn nature of our flag. The Australian flag is a key symbol deserving of respect.

I thank both the National and Tasmanian branch of the RSL for their support. For many years the RSL has supported legislation to protect the Australian Flag. I also thank the National Flag Association for their strong support.

The Bill is expected to be introduced together with Senator Barnett's explanatory memorandum and second reading speech at 3:30pm tomorrow, 3 September.

Senator Barnett will also table over 5000 petition signatures of support for the legislation from all over Australia.

For more information: Tasman Stacey 0438 442 388

Reg Watson, National Flag Association: 0409 975 587

Major General Bill Crews AO (Retd), National President, RSL: 0410 627 873

Tony Scott AO, Tasmanian President, RSL: 0417 397 288

33 George Street, Launceston 7250, Tasmania, Australia Parliament House, Canberra, ACT 2600

Tel (03) 6334 1755 Fax (03) 6334 1624 Toll Free 1300 132 937 Tel (02) 6277 3603 Fax (02) 6277 3600