WA yokels say ‘we’re Sorry, but we ain’t flyin’ no flag’
Local councillors from one of Western Australia’s most unsettled communities have voted not to fly the Aboriginal flag during NAIDOC week.
Carnarvon Shire president Karl Brandenburg told ABC 720’s Geoff Hutchison this morning – ironically, on Sorry Day – that he had cast the deciding vote in favour of not flying the iconic Indigenous symbol when a vote earlier this week ended in a tie.
The snub has predictably been met with derision and mockery from all indigenous leaders and both sides of politics.
Carnarvon Shire sits on the wind-swept mouth of the Gascoyne River, 900km north of Perth, and has for decades been a flashpoint between white and black Western Australians. It boasts a big banana industry, has a dwindling tourism footprint and services the pastoral and mining communities.
The Yamatji are the traditional owners of the area.
NAIDOC week, which begins on July 3, is recognised as the premier Indigenous week of celebration, showcasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, achievement and history in events right across the nation.
Cr Brandenburg told Hutchison he believed flying the Aboriginal flag would be divisive and that the Australian flag represented all nationalities of the local community.
“From my point of view I’ve got to take citizenship ceremonies in there quite regularly . . . I think it’s only fair that [different nationalities] should do it under the Australian flag,” he said.
“The NAIDOC flag can be flown at their buildings or buildings where they’re having events and all those areas,” he said. “The shire offices are not where they’re holding the event, so they need to understand and reflect the fact that we are one nation and we are all Australian, and that’s what citizenship’s under.
“What do I do next, have a sporting club come and say, ‘we’ve got a big sporting event, I want to raise our flag’?”
State Labor Leader Mark McGowan led a river of derision toward the Shire, tweeting that the first task for the day was to send the Shire an Aboriginal flag.
WA Nationals MP for the North-West Vince Catania was more outspoken, telling the ABC the decision was “nonsense” and “rubbish”. He argued that the decision was not reflective of the general community feeling toward Aboriginal people in the area.
“This is not a reflection of the Carnarvon community, this is not a total reflection of all the councillors on the Shire of Carnarvon,” he told the ABC. “To say you need to have an Australian flag fly solely is a load of rubbish.
“Given the fact that 20 per cent of our population is Aboriginal, they should be flying every day throughout the year.”
With ABC copy.
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