Keep this our flag — in one piece
Desecrating the Australian flag should be a crime, Seymour-based Member for the Northern Victoria Region Daniel Young says.
In advance of Australia Day celebrations, there are calls to burn the national flag, which could have been a criminal offence in Victoria under a bill introduced nearly a year ago by the Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party representative.
‘‘It is one thing to say the burning of the Australian flag by an individual is a form of freedom of political expression, but to collectively call it a rag and incite others to steal and burn it goes to the intent of my private members bill to protect it from vile desecration,’’ Mr Young said.
Mr Young tabled the Upholding Australian Values (Protecting Our Flags) Bill 2015 in March last year, to make it a specific offence to burn, intentionally damage, deface or otherwise desecrate the Australian Flag. The bill also proposed to protect the Victorian Flag, Aboriginal Flag and Australian Red Ensign.
With Labor and Greens party members indicating they would defeat the bill, it did not proceed to a vote.
In recent weeks, a group calling themselves the Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance or WAR, have stated on social media that members will hold ‘‘7 days of Resistance/Deconlonization (sic) in the lead up to Invasion Day 2017’’ and encourage people to disrupt Australia Day celebrations, including ‘‘steal and burn aus rags’’.
In March, Special Minister of State Gavin Jennings argued that the government would not support Mr Young’s bill because, in part, it could limit the in- herent freedom of political expression.
‘‘If the government reflects on what is being advocated by WAR and Left Re- newal, it cannot deny these are the very issues Minister Jennings said could lead to support for legislation,’’ Mr Young said.
‘‘Advocating for the malicious desecration the Australian flag and what it symbolises does little to harmonise.’’