Aboriginal flags call for council
“It is very important we recognise our indigenous counterparts in both chambers,” Cr Thomas said at council’s monthly meeting on August 17.
“A lot of other councils have both flags in chamber.” Neighbouring shires such as Indigo and Moira have the Aboriginal Flag outside and/or inside their buildings.
Currently, in the Corowa Chamber there is an Australian Flag and Union Flag (United Kingdom Flag) while there are an Australian Flag and NSW State Flag displayed in the Urana Chamber.
Some lively debate occurred on the subject following a Notice of Motion by Cr Thomas, which was subsequently seconded by Cr Norm Wales but also including a fourth flag, the State Flag of NSW, be added at the suggestion of Cr Fred Longmire.
The motion passed by council was, however, that a council staff report related to associated costs involved for the Aboriginal Flag come back for councillors’ further consideration.
Deputy mayor Shaun Whitechurch mentioned the Murray River Federation Flag for inclusion and asked: ‘Where are we going to stop?
“It is not a carnival, it is a council chamber. It’s not a place to be putting flags up all over the wall.”
Cr Andrew Kennedy raised the subject of cost in having the Aboriginal Flag in the chamber and whether paying of rights would be involved, which he believed “should be checked out before a final decision”.
Mayor Pat Bourke said: “Maybe it does need a further look.”
Cr Thomas asked: “Is it a cost or respect factor?” The mayor responded there’s always respect but that council should ascertain if it’s thousands or hundreds of dollars involved.
The Aboriginal Flag should be installed in the council chambers of the Corowa Civic Centre and the Urana office according to Councillor Bronwyn Thomas of Federation Council.
Cr Paul Miegel said as a council, he believes Federation Council acknowledges significance of First Nation people at the beginning of every council meeting
“It is not about the respect. It is only about whether it is the duplication of that respect and whether we need visual and verbal,” he added.
Federation Council’s General Manager Adrian Butler did not anticipate an overly costly exercise regarding the Aboriginal Flag but would have research undertaken accordingly.
“Sometimes we get complimentary flags from the Commonwealth Government or Governor-General,” he said.
Cr Thomas is Chair of Murray Darling Association Region 2 and referred to the association’s support for a process to promote greater representation of First Nation people in Local
Government and in water policy – which was recently recommended by her.
“As Chair of MDA Region 2 and responsible for advocacy of this recommendation it is be noted that Local Government respect to our Indigenous counterparts includes proudly installing the Indigenous Flags in chamber,” she said.
“The Australian Aboriginal Flag was designed by artist Mr Harold Thomas and first flown at Victoria Square in Adelaide, South Australia, on National Aborigines Day in July 1971, which is known as NAIDOC Week.
“We acknowledge that The Australian Aboriginal flag is protected under copyright by Mr Thomas and with Mr Thomas awarding the licence for the manufacture and marketing of the Australian Aboriginal Flag to Carroll and Richardson Flagworld. Permission is not required to fly the Australian Aboriginal Flag.
“These flags in chamber are a highly visible symbol of respect and promoting a sense of community: considering Federation Council are in the process of adopting a “Reconciliation Action Plan” with key stakeholder engagement in progress for endorsement by both council and Reconciliation Australia.”
Cr Thomas’s Notice of Motion also included updating the honour boards and having a photograph of councillors.
“Our honour boards do need updating,” she said. Emphasising the word “fabulous”, Cr Thomas said: “Council should add the councillors photo in the Corowa and Urana Chambers in respect of the last four fabulous years of the inaugural Federation Council representatives.”
Mr Butler advised action is underway regarding the updating of honour boards and arranging for a photograph of the council’s nine councillors.