Flag-raisers

FEDERAL and state MPs are backing a residents’-led campaign calling on Bayswater council to fly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags all year round.

Currently the flags fly only during national reconciliation week and NAIDOC.

The Maylands ratepayers and residents association says it’s not good enough.

“The flags are flown all year round at other local WA governments, including Bassendean, Melville and just recently Rockingham,” says MRRA member Jan Wheare.

“In the eastern states the Koori people are acknowledged with flags in council chambers too, alongside our national flag.

“As has been said ‘if Australia does not acknowledge its indigenous history then it has only half a face.’”

Mayor Sylvan Albert is unconvinced and wants only the national, state and city flags on the daily roster.

“The city believes that reserving the flag for these important occasions will promote greater understanding of indigenous people and culture,” he says.

“The city follows the protocol determined by the department of the prime minister and cabinet.”

• Jan Wheare and Roger Tomlins want the Aboriginal and Torrest Strait Islander flag flying every day. Photo by Matthew Dwyer

• Jan Wheare and Roger Tomlins want the Aboriginal and Torrest Strait Islander flag flying every day. Photo by Matthew Dwyer

Clare Goodall, the convenor of the East Metro reconciliation group, says a 2013 petition asking the council to appoint an Aboriginal liaison officer was also unsuccessful.

“I think the flags would be a great way of promoting relationships and harmony across the community,” she says.

“It would be a real olive branch.”

Maylands Labor MP Lisa Baker says the council has made progress with indigenous recognition, but it still has gaps.

“Residents have been waiting for three years for indigenous art pieces to be added to the entry of the Maylands Rise,” she notes.

“Last year on behalf of Maylands residents I successfully lobbied the city to include a plaque recognising WA’s indigenous war heroes on ANZAC centopahs.”

The flags proposal is backed by federal Perth Labor MP Alannah MacTiernan.

“Given the recent uncertainty over remote Aboriginal communities in WA, this would be a great gesture,” she says.

“There is a long way to go in the reconciliation process.”

East Metro Liberal MLC Donna Faragher did not return the Voice’s call.

by STEPHEN POLLOCK

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