OPINION

The Echidna: Flap over the flag signals it's time to grow up

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As far as gestures go, it was bound to be incendiary. Greens leader Adam Bandt's refusal to stand in front of the Australian flag during his Sydney press conference on Monday certainly got talkback radio barking. It also triggered Government Services Minister Bill Shorten, who described the decision to remove the Australian flag from behind the podium, but leave the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags in place, as a divisive act.

Bandt said he did it because "for many Australians, this flag represents dispossession and the lingering pains of colonisation". He also used the gesture to promote his republican viewpoint and desire to have a new flag that represents all Australians. What he didn't say was that for many Australians who came from troubled parts of the world to build new lives here, the flag represents sanctuary, opportunity and hope. You see those sentiments in the beaming faces at citizenship ceremonies around the country every year.

The very first press conference held by Anthony Albanese before he jetted off to Tokyo in his first week as PM featured the three flags and was seen as a powerful message of inclusion. Bandt's removal of the Australian flag smacked of student politics, a vaguely desperate look-at-me stunt from a party that ought to be taken seriously, given its electoral success in May.

And perhaps that is the point. If nothing else, the flap over the flag has got the Greens into the headlines, and differentiated them from the Teals, whose stunning wins in the election attracted the lion's share of media attention. But one wonders at what cost. Most of us are tired of the culture wars and yet here are the Greens reigniting them by feeding the trolls and inflaming the shock jocks, just when we're becoming accustomed to the new civility and commonsense in politics.

The Greens have every right to champion a republic. They have every right to call for a new flag. They have every right to advocate for First Nations people. But very little is gained by provocative gestures that only serve to distract and divide.

Perhaps it's time to act like the grown-up party the electors expect.

HAVE YOUR SAY: Is it time we had a new flag? Did Adam Bandt help the cause of the republic by removing the Australian flag from his press conference? Email us: echidna@theechidna.com.au

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THEY SAID IT: "If you want a symbolic gesture, don't burn the flag; wash it." - Norman Thomas

YOU SAID IT: "Re interest rates: every family on $200,000 or less, this will have an impact on their budget and the increase of interest rates WILL increase inflation. The Reserve Bank needs to know casual work is NOT full employment. Same as so called elective surgery is not always elective but necessary. When will the experts get it right?" - Gary

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"The Reserve Bank has only ever had one tool in its toolbox, and that's interest/cash rates. It has a long-and-not-so-proud history of acting after the horse has bolted, and this time it's no different. A steady rise in interest rates now is only playing catch-up for what it should have done earlier. We are fortunate in not having a mortgage, but we do have two savings accounts with our bank. It has passed on the 0.25 percentage point increase to one account, and the 0.50 point increase to the other, but not the full 0.75 point rise to either. No doubt it will hold back part of any further increases as well in order to increase its profits. Banks really are bastards." - Bob

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This story Flap over the flag signals it's time to grow up first appeared on The Canberra Times.