Rejection of First Nations flags in federal parliament condemned

11 November, 2020

The Independent Education Union – Queensland and Northern Territory (IEU-QNT) condemns the federal government’s shameful rejection yesterday (10 November 2020) to fly the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags alongside the Australian national flag in Federal Parliament.

Yesterday, during the middle of NAIDOC Week 2020, Liberal National Party (LNP) members voted down a motion proposed by Labor (ALP) to fly First Nations flags in the Senate to celebrate and recognise First Nations Australians.

IEU-QNT Branch Secretary Terry Burke said our union stands in solidarity with First Nations Peoples in their respectful and reasonable request to have the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags displayed in the senate.

“The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flags have been recognised as official national flags since 1995 under the Flags Act 1953 so it should be a given that they are displayed along with the Australian flag,“ Mr Burke said.

“Voting down this request is an insult to all Australians particularly during NAIDOC Week where we celebrate First Nations Peoples and culture and the fact they are the single oldest living Peoples in the world.

“Our union will continue to fight for the industrial, educational and human rights of First Nations Peoples.

The request from three First Nations Senators to display the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags to be flown in the spirit of NAIDOC Week was supported by members of Labor and The Greens, while LNP members voted against displaying First Nations flags.

Senator Lidia Thorpe, a Gunnai and Gunditjmara woman, said the government’s decision demonstrated “colonial oppression [had] reared its ugly violent head.”

The National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) released a statement on Twitter in response to the government’s decision.

“On 26 Jan 1938 at one of the first major civil rights gatherings in the world – the Day of Mourning – we asked for basic human rights. Today 82 years later in the week borne from that day we asked for our flags to also be flown in the Senate chamber. Just the flags… nothing else.”

The theme for NAIDOC Week celebrations this year is Always Was, Always Will Be, to recognise that First Nations people have occupied and cared for this continent for over 65,000 years.

NAIDOC Week is a time to celebrate Australia’s First Nations Peoples and cultures, not an occasion to exclude and further oppress them.

Our union denounces the federal government and their ongoing disgraceful treatment of First Nations Australians and stands in solidarity with our First Nations members and all First Nations People.

Australia Always Was and Always Will Be, First Nations land.

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