‘Flag Man’s’ rally hit with Shire hur­dle

Augusta Margaret River Times - - News -

Plans for a rally in Cowaramup to cel­e­brate an Aus­tralian flag with an al­ter­na­tive de­sign have hit a hur­dle, with or­gan­iser Fred “the Flag Man” Rieben weigh­ing up his op­tions.

Planned for De­cem­ber to co­in­cide with the an­niver­sary of the Eu­reka Stock­ade, lo­cal govern­ment in­sur­ance re­quire­ments could stymie the event.

Mr Rieben said more then 1200 cars across the Capes now dis­played his flag-de­sign stick­ers — a de­sign he is in­tent on tak­ing na­tion­wide.

The Mar­garet River res­i­dent told the Times stick­ers on cars was one of the most ef­fec­tive ways to share the mes­sage but ad­mit­ted keep­ing up with de­mand could be dif­fi­cult.

“Sup­port just seems to keep grow­ing and grow­ing,” he said. “But I’m not sur­prised. “Right here is the best place in Aus­tralia to light the spark, get peo­ple talk­ing, and even­tu­ally get this flag on top of Par­lia­ment House.”

The blue, gold and green flag was per­fected by Mr Rieben over sev­eral decades and de­picts the South­ern Cross, a boomerang — pay­ing homage to the coun­try’s Abo­rig­i­nal her­itage — and red dots, which he said had sev­eral in­ter­pre­ta­tions.

When turned on its side, it can be read as “sky, sea, beach and bush”, Mr Rieben said. Its de­signer in­sists the in­tent is not to “trash his­tory” or “ruin our con­nec­tion to the UK”, but rather to en­sure the flag’s ac­cu­racy.

“The fact is, the cur­rent flag is in­cor­rect,” Mr Rieben said.

“In ‘flag lan­guage’, our cur­rent flag says the Aus­tralian Com­mon­wealth is sub­servient to the UK, but in 1986, the Hawke govern­ment ended all pro­vi­sions for ap­peal to the Privy Coun­cil, mak­ing the flag’s state­ment inac- cu­rate. This is a 19th-cen­tury de­sign for a 21st-cen­tury so­ci­ety.”

Shire of Au­gusta-Mar­garet River waste, health and ranger ser­vices man­ager Ruth Levett said Mr Rieben had been told of “con­sid­er­able com­pli­ance re­quire­ments for a pub­lic event”.

“He will need to sup­ply ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion and sub­stan­ti­a­tion to the Shire,” she said.

The rally to muster sup­port was pre­vi­ously planned for Cowaramup on De­cem­ber 3.

Pic­ture: Paul Done­gan

Fred the Flag Man has re­designed the Aus­tralian flag and is pro­mot­ing it all over the South West. Here he stands in the mid­dle of Mar­garet River with his proud work.

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