Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Eureka Flag – Ban on the most Australian symbol of them all an outrage

Peter FitzSimons

Yes, I grant you, when you wander into the realms of what is "un-Australian", you can quickly get lost in a miasma of hoary breast-beating, all to the tune of Waltzing Matilda, but ... as you might guess, I can't resist.

For I refer, of course, to a report on Monday that notes, as of recently, companies face being banned from doing any federal building work "if employees display the Eureka flag or union slogans on employer-supplied clothing and equipment", all because of "Turnbull government restrictions on workers showing support for the CFMEU".

Yes'm, according to the diktat released by the Australian Building and Construction Commission – responsible for monitoring and promoting workplace relations in the Australian building and construction industry – from now on employers must be "more stringent", on the display of union logos and mottos. In fact, so stringent that, as noted by The Australian in its report, the presence of a single union logo might see them in breach, and such offending material, specifically includes "images generally attributed to, or associated with an organisation, such as the iconic symbol of the five white stars and white cross on the Eureka Stockade flag".

Friends, I ask you, does it get any more un-Australian than that – 163 years on from the most inspiring event in our history, of individuals rising against an unfair government, we have a modern government attempting to ban the individual's right to display the very symbol of that struggle.

Eureka is not just any symbol. It is the most iconic Australian symbol of the lot, the one that has endured through the ages, the symbol that, to quote my own tome on the subject, stands for "justice, multiculturalism, mateship, egalitarianism, democracy, republicanism and the rights of the workers".

This is the symbol the Australian government thinks is such a danger to shipping it has to be shut down?

And yes, yes, I know, in response to the very idea that the Eureka symbol is an important one which, far from meriting banning, deserves veneration, will bring predictable howls from the denizens of talkback – and here's a special hello to you, Alan – along the lines that anything that is a symbol of unionism deserves to be done down, just on principle.

If it please the court, I seek your leave to call the first witness for the defence ...

The courtroom stirs, as footsteps are heard on the oaken floors outside. The door opens. In walks ... Senator Cory Bernardi! SENSATION in the courtroom. The witness no one was expecting!

And thank you, your honour, you are quite right. Mostly, it is fair to say, Senator Bernardi and I cannot agree that it is Tuesday, let alone anything substantive in the realms of Australian politics. But here is the thing. Look at his shining eyes right now. Though opposed on everything, we both tear up at the vision of the Eureka flag.

December 1st 1854 – Swearing allegiance to the "Southern Cross" – From Notebook of Charles Doudiet

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