PM's flag law plan annoys Ausflag

The Sydney Morning Herald, 26 April 1996, p.3.

The Australian flag should be able to fly on its own, without being wrapped in cotton wool and kept on a life-support system, according to a group lobbying for a new flag. The executive director of Ausflag, Mr Harold Scruby, yesterday criticised the plans of the Prime Minister, Mr John Howard, to protect the flag in legislation before it can be changed.

"The Australian flag is clearly under attack, as the Australian Government is now considering legislation, unprecedented in the Western world or the Common wealth of Nations, to ensure the flag is preserved in aspic," Mr Scruby said.

Mr Howard, in his Anzac Day statement, said that under new laws to be introduced by the Government, any change to the Australian flag would have to be approved by a referendum or plebiscite. He said that "no-one will be able to change our national symbol without the nation's consent.

Mr Scruby said Ausflag had always campaigned for a plebiscite but one in which several designs would be compared with the existing one and the people would decide.

"The Australian flag fails its primary purpose of uniting the Australian people," he said. "Trying to block the inevitable proclamation of our own flag by artificial barriers will fail because of this very point."

Mr Scruby said Ausflag had written to Mr Howard on March 28 calling for open debate on the subject and for him to provide funds to set up a bipartisan parliamentary committee. However, Mr Howard chose to wait until Anzac Day to make his plans public.

Mr Scruby said: "This is a most divisive act, when Mr Howard knows that at least 50 per cent of the Australian people want their own new flag, especially after it was Mr Howard who promised to 'govern for all of us'. This declaration on such a sacred day will split the community. "Countries such as Britain, USA, Japan, Canada and Prance do not need such protection, because their flags are not under threat."

Mr Scruby said experts in constitutional law also doubted the legality of the legislation, as it could be repealed by future governments.

© Ausflag 2017