SCORN FOR OUR COUNTRY IS ADAM BRANDT’S SPECIALTY
The following article was written by Peta Credlin this will be the last article I post about this issue, if you are interested in having your say to Adam Bandt by all means do so, his email address is [email protected]
By Peta Credlin
The Australian flag after being moved to the side of the room before the Greens leader held a press conference in Sydney on Monday.
Adam Bandt’s brazen contempt for our national flag, saying it is hurtful to Indigenous people, is just the latest instance of people whose job it is to build up our country actually running it down.
It was heartening that Indigenous leaders from across the spectrum accused him of setting back reconciliation, but the Greens leader, on past form, is unlikely to let even their admonitions get in the way of a cheap shot. He is a master of the politics of division.
Apparently, it is Bandt’s normal conduct to remove the flag from any platform he’s on because it “represents dispossession and the lingering pains of colonisation”. He’s welcome to his opinion and to campaign for a “treaty with First Nations people”, plus a republic, as well as changing the flag (all of which just emphasises what a Marxist he really is), but as a member of the parliament that sits under the national flag, and who had to affirm allegiance to the Queen as his mark of loyalty to our country, surely a bit more respect is in order?
The most telling rebuke came from Noongar activist Hannah McGlade, hardly a conservative, who noted that she’d gone to law school with Bandt and that he’d “never showed an interest in Aboriginal issues”, “never spoke once … about our fight for justice” and “doesn’t have any track record on Aboriginal rights”. His comments, she said, reflected a “symbolism which is rejected by Aboriginal people”, who wanted real rights rather than empty grandstanding.
Unsurprisingly, military veterans also condemned Bandt’s denigration of our national flag. New opposition assistant defence spokesman Phil Thompson, wounded in action in Afghanistan, noted Bandt’s deliberate offence to a flag that had draped the coffins of his “brothers who were killed in action”.
With Labor needing the Greens to get legislation through the Senate, expect Bandt to exploit his influence to sow even more division.
Illustration: John Spooner
To his credit, the new Prime Minister has shown himself to be an adult in a way Bandt has not. A lifelong republican, he graciously acknowledged the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee without the need to distance himself from a constitutional order that has always served our country well. A strong proponent of Indigenous recognition, Anthony Albanese made a real show of placing the Aboriginal flags behind him for his media events, but at least he ensured the national flag still has a place of honour (although I argue it should never be moved from the centre as it is our one national flag that represents all Australians, and not just some of us).
This is what’s most dismaying about the NSW Premier’s decision to fly the Aboriginal flag permanently on Sydney Harbour Bridge. Yes, the $25m spend is offensive to taxpayers, but no less troubling is the tacit elevation of what’s merely an official flag to the same status as our one national flag. Fly it on days of Indigenous commemoration by all means, as happens now, but not every day as if it were the equal of the one flag that represents us all.
My sense of Albanese is that he will try hard to keep our public conversation civil, but my fear is the change of government has emboldened those inclined to see their political opponents as enemies of the people standing in the way of progress.
Take the proposed Indigenous voice to parliament the government has pledged to put to referendum this term. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want to see Indigenous people properly recognised as the first Australians or who’s blase about the shocking dysfunction in remote communities. But it’s not ignorance or hard-heartedness – let alone racism – to worry about the establishment of a race-based electoral roll, to choose a race-based new body with a constitutionally entrenched obligation to consider the impact of all laws on one particular race. The best way to eliminate racism and atone for any past racism is to ensure everyone gets the same fair go rather than justify new racial distinctions on the basis they’re supposedly benign. Should this come to a vote, the Yes campaign will almost certainly try to impose a Bandt-style guilt trip on our country, even though the welcome presence of 11 Indigenous voices in parliament surely makes redundant a separate race-based body.
Take becoming a republic, which the government says won’t be put to a referendum this term but which remains a non-negotiable element in Labor’s platform and now has its own assistant minister to educate us about the embarrassment of having a “foreign head of state”. What we will see in the twilight years of the Queen’s reign is a growing disrespect for the Crown designed to make change seem inevitable. But ask yourself: by and large, who has added more dignity to our public life, the Queen or our elected parliamentarians? Keeping the Crown matters because it preserves a part of our system from party politics. Having the Crown hasn’t stopped us being a fully independent, entirely sovereign country. Yet there’s no doubt the republic vote, should it come to it, will heavily insinuate we aren’t a real country unless we change.
Then there’s the myriad, green-left councils that have stopped celebrating Australia Day on the grounds it’s really invasion day – even though there’s no evidence that Indigenous people (as opposed to activists) share the left’s ambivalence verging on scorn towards Australia. Like everyone doing it tough, mostly, they’d rather have a better future than try to rewrite the past.
Not so our schools, though, required by the national curriculum to teach every subject from an Indigenous, sustainability and Asian perspective with the hard-to-avoid and pretty obviously intended inference that we’re an illegitimate country with an inadequate culture that can’t help damaging the environment. The latest decree out of Victoria is that all state schools must now mark annual Sorry Day with a consideration of the continuing impact of dispossession. It’s hard to conceive of anything more calculated to undermine the next generation’s pride in our country.
I’m not saying a case can’t be made for changing the flag, dumping the Crown and establishing a voice. It’s just that all these leftist articles of faith stem from the premise there’s something fundamentally wrong with our country as it is. Not with the government, not with its policies, but with us. But if Australia really is that deficient, why are millions of people desperate to get here? The black-armband brigade should spend more time talking to recent migrants, the people best placed to judge a country’s real worth, for whom every day in Australia is Thank You Day. Is it any wonder so many of our young people struggle with mental health issues when they’re subjected to orchestrated campaigns to trash who they are, who we are as a country and everything we stand for?
Peta Credlin is the host of Credlin on Sky News, 6pm weeknights.
Peta Credlin AO is a weekly columnist with The Australian. Since 2017, she has hosted her successful prime-time program Credlin on Sky News each weeknight at 6pm. For 16 years, Peta was a policy adviser to How… Read more