Press Release: Burning of Our Flag in Launceston
The despicable burning of the Australian National Flag by Adam Thompson of the Tasmanian Aboriginal Council (TAC), needs to be censured to the highest degree. Watched by well-known activist and friend of Libya’s http://www.wvwnews.net/story.php?id=2635, Mike Mansell and legal advisor to the TAC, it took place January 28th 2008 in Launceston, Tasmania. On ABC Radio (Sydney) Mr Mansell said 200 attended the demonstration even though ABC Television News said 100. Mr Mansell said it was in protest as Australia Day offends the aborigines of Australia. It was a day of invasion, which he said can be associated with Hitler’s Germany. Mansell added that the burning of the flag was an act of “free speech” (The Mercury newspaper 31/Jan 08). On ABC Radio interview in Sydney (28th Jan) he decried the ‘whites’ that invaded this land.
The burning of our national symbol was an act of vandalism. What followed was a torrid bout of criticism of Mansell’s and the TAC’s action. The vast majority of Tasmanians protested in talkback radio (which according to Mr Mansell, was “racial aggression”) and through the media in general. Our honourable Patron Michael Hodgman QC MHA compared the action to “desecrating the altar of a church”. Liberal Senator Guy Barnett said he would draft legislation to make burning of our national emblem an offence. On the day of this most cowardly act by members of the TAC, numerous media outlets contacted the President of the Australia National Flag Association (Tasmania) Mr Reg Watson, finally resulting in two confrontations on air with Mr Mansell. Reg’s comments went not only statewide, but also within Australia. This exposure included not only the printed media, but television and radio. Mr Watson described the act as an “act of vandalism” and “despicable” and called for Federal Government legislation to make the burning of the flag a criminal offence. Our Secretary John Salmon did likewise, attacking vigorously this senseless action. Support was overwhelming, excepting for the Mayors of Hobart, Robert Valentine and of Glenorchy, Adriana Taylor (both well known liberals) and of course – and to be expected, the leader of the Green Party, Peg Putt.Let’s get some facts straight. Mike Mansell should stand aside. He’s been there far too long. As mentioned on a radio interview, Reg Watson said that he does not nor does the TAC enjoy the vast support of the majority of Tasmanians who have aboriginal blood. TAC’s radicalism is an embarrassment. As legal advisor to the TAC and its leader, Mr Mansell has acted with no responsibility whatsoever. Mr Mansell is also white as well as aboriginal, how he can criticise to the point of hating the ‘whites’ – as he keeps on referring to us – is amazing, as he is actually criticizing a large proportion of himself. He is not suffering, despite his numerous claims. The TAC is funded through the Tasmanian Government by the taxpayer and despite efforts in endeavouring to find out how much annually, the State Government of Tasmania is reluctant to reveal the information. There is no doubt that it is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and I would suggest close to a million. But it does not stop there; those who claim aboriginality as determined by the TAC are also recipient to housing loans at good interest rates (lower than the rest of us), health costs, education benefits which most young Australians can only dream about and preferential treatment when it comes to employment. Not bad for being repressed! That, continuous governments, both Labor and Liberal have allowed this stupid situation to continue is a scandal. Fortunately a few determined politicians spoke out against the burning of the flag – but most remained silent! Just where are we heading when nothing is done to prevent and stop this most degrading affair, which is an insult to our war veterans? But hang on! We must understand them, we must be sensitive to their cause and claims. I say, Bull-Dust! Enough is enough! The burning of our most sacred symbol is the ultimate in offensive behaiour. Have we become a nation of gutless wonders when we will not act with determination to protect our way of life? Have we become so leaderless with spine-less parliamentarians, church leaders and academics, that we have become too effeminate to say nothing? Is this the Australia that went through pioneering hardship, natural disasters, depressions and wars? Surely not! Michael Mansell may shout “racist” to his well paid voice goes blue. Indeed, his comments against ‘whites’ and the British are extreme racism, but who cares about the majority? It is well over due that we should care and find the guts to speak out!
We of the Association have been vocal in our opposition to this most cowardly act and have written to the Prime Minster and the Leader of the Opposition in working towards legislation to make the burning of our flag illegal. Now all we want is some men and women with backbone to act.