Frothing at the mouth over the Aussie flag

23 Jan


Proud Australian … patriotic displays – this one was at last year’s Big Day Out – cannot and should not be stopped, say politicians. Photo: James Brickwood, Sydney Morning Herald.

Click that guy in the Union Jack and you will be able to read this morning’s Sydney Morning Herald on the subject. The Daily Telegraph is in its element on this, as you may see on the left. Oh and what is the fuss about? The alleged banning of the Australian flag at the Sydney Big Day Out rock concert this year.

It is worth visiting the Big Day Out site:

Clarification on the Flag Issue

The Big Day Out would like to offer the following to clarify its position on “flag banning” at the Sydney show.

Contrary to the reports in the media, it was never our intention to disrespect the symbolism of the Australian or any other flag.

We are not banning the Australian flag but are simply discouraging its use for anti-social purposes at the Big Day Out.

We state unequivocally that flags will not be banned at any Australian Big Day Out show in the foreseeable future.

In recent times, there has been an increased incidence of flags brandished aggressively and this has led to increased tension. Our only intention in discouraging this activity at the Big Day Out is to ensure that our patrons are not subjected to this aggressive behaviour.

With all this in mind and the aim to create a happy, peaceful MUSICAL event, organisers would like to request that fans please leave their flags at home.

The Big Day Out is not an Australia Day event, but a music festival showcasing music artists from around the world and aspires to unify people through music.

Unfortunately the media reports yesterday were not quoted accurately and we must thank the participating media for wasting everybody’s time including the Prime Minister John Howard, Premier Morris Iemma, NSW RSL President Don Rowe, Keysar Trad (a confidant of the Mufti Sheik Taj el-Dene Elhilaly) and Burt Lane of the Australian National Flag Association…

If you look at the Australian flag protocols you will see there “the flag should not fall or lie on the ground or be used as a cover” (except for coffins) and that “the flag should be used in a dignified manner and reproduced completely and accurately.” It strikes me we are in danger of forgetting those. It is my view that the comparatively recent fashion of displaying the flag for all sorts of inappropriate reasons and in inappropriate ways has led to a cheapening, even sometimes a tainting, of its symbolism, which may well make me more conservative on this occasion than John Howard!

At the time of the Cronulla riots I wrote rather provocatively: “My father and uncles fought the Japs and the Nazis so that mobs wrapped in national flags would not take over the streets, actually… Think about it.” The day before I had written:

…Look at those raised arms and imagine swastika flags… Yes, the Aussies really worried me that day, and I am sure my father would have seen the imagery with considerable disquiet. He would also recall the New Guard of the 1930s, for whom he had no respect whatsoever. This is not patriotism: this is mindless jingoism and tribalism. Nor is it what the bulk of Cronulla-ites had in mind when that day began. Unfortunately, neo-Nazis and sheer bogans from as far away as Penrith and Campbelltown (not a rumour — I have read their blogs) joined in the general anarchy. I have no more time for them than I have for the hoons who have been wrecking enjoyment at the beach, some of whom attacked those lifesavers. But that’s OK, isn’t it: “our” bogans attack ambos and attempt to kill innocent bystanders, no questions asked…

I wouldn’t have touched most of this crowd with a barge-pole personally, and THAT is a patriotic point of view in my opinion. I am the citizen of a country that is a bit more grown-up than the one some of these people seem to want.

Also provocative, but I was contemplating the picture on the right.

Anyway, I am a recovering pontificator now, aren’t I?

To return to the top picture. Look closely and you will see very few flags, in fact. I am sure too, whatever the protocols are that may be being breached, that the majority at the concert would have worn their flags without sinister intent. Nonetheless, it is a fair point to say that the Aussie flag is hijacked by some with less than good intent, and as one letter says in today’s Herald, “Flags belong on flagpoles, not on caps and T-shirts or draped around the shoulders of drunks.”

Bruce, now on WordPress, is quite fierce on the subject.


Even my favourite Right Wing Blogger (and I mean that seriously: his blog is great!) finds the whole flag fashion a “bit excessive”: See Excessive.

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5 responses to “Frothing at the mouth over the Aussie flag

  1. podium2007

    January 24, 2007 at 2:26 pm

    Do you think that this defence of the use of flags by the PM is dog whistling to the “flag-waving-idiot-crowd”?

    Howard is literally defending a practice that by convention tarnishes the flag, so as a conservative and a particularly ye-old-Australian one you would expect that he knows this. Knows it and endorses it.

    Don’t forget that Menzies was very close to the New and Old Guard himself, and we know who the PM’s favourite hero is. One can’t lionize Menzies and condemn fascism at the same time without being a hypocrite.

    So on one hand we have the PM’s endorsement of acts that under a traditional conservative perspective (of which he is supposed to be) bring the flag into disrepute and on the other hand, we have a PM who can’t make an honest criticism of fascism.

    I don’t suspect the RSL, but Howard has form for the dog whistle. It’s really a case of “what they say and what they mean.”

    What they say:
    People should be free to use the flag!
    What they mean:

    That they say:
    No violence under the flag!
    What they mean:
    Don’t think I’m a bad guy for whipping up jingoistic hatred under the flag.

    Howard says one thing to get a response, and a contrary thing to portray an image. One need only know his political history (“too many Asians”, his love of NAZI and fascist apologist Menzies) and his tactics of choice to know what he’s saying and what he’s meaning when his dictates come into conflict with each other.

    Incidentally, I’m being quite fierce out of a deliberate attempt to be inflammatory. I still think I’ve been making a good point, but normally I wouldn’t be quite so colourful. 😉

  2. ninglun

    January 24, 2007 at 2:56 pm

    I thought you were trailing your coat a bit, Bruce, something I have been known to do now and again myself.

    We could have an interesting historical discussion on the age of Menzies which I lived through — all of it, so old I am. Indeed Chifley is the first PM I remember, just. In many respects Howard is far to the right of Menzies! Now there’s a horrible thought, no doubt. Even today Malcolm Fraser claims to be truer to the Menzies legacy than Howard is, and I suspect that is the case.

  3. Antony Shen

    January 25, 2007 at 12:19 am

    Thank you for quoting the Big Day Out statement.
    Big Day Out organisation clearly showed no regrets on causing public hatred on them. Instead, they chose to attack media and the RIGHT HONOURABLE John Howard, Prime Minister of Australia, and a number of other well known people. Shame on them.

  4. ninglun

    January 25, 2007 at 12:28 am

    I think the point Big Day Out were making is that the whole thing was blown out of proportion by the media, who do this all the time, Antony, especially the Telegraph — it’s called tabloid journalism — and then taken up by the politicians, partly for the reasons Bruce suggests, even if my view may be a bit less left-wing (just a bit) than his.

    John Howard does this sort of thing all the time, one of many reasons I hope he gets unelected in 2007.

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