Keep this our flag — in one piece

Seymour Telegraph - - NEWS - A dis­af­fected group is call­ing for peo­ple to burn the Aus­tralian flag, which should be a crime, politi­cian Daniel Young says.

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.’’

Wrong:

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