WILL THE BURNING OF THE FLAG OF AUSTRALIA HELP OR HINDER THE PASSING OF THE VOICE REFERENDUM?

Let me say first of all that I have believed for many decades that Australia needs a new flag.

May I also say that I will never ever burn our flag no matter what its design may be?

My journey towards achieving a new flag for Australia began at the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne.

At that time, our National Anthem was GOD SAVE THE QUEEN. When an Australian won a Gold Medal, this was played as the Aussie mounted the podium. Exactly the same happened when a Brit or a Kiwi won. There was no distinction.

Even the most conservative monarchists in Australia began to openly say, ‘we must have a national anthem of our own that shows we are no longer a British colony.’ Some were also saying, ‘we must have a new flag too. After all the Canadians are getting a new one.’

It took a long time, but we finally achieved the goal of a new national anthem even though we blundered badly. WALTZING MATILDA, with new words, should have been chosen as this is the tune that the world instinctively identifies as being Australian.

But we have made no progress whatsoever in gaining a genuine Australian Flag.

The Union Jack, that is a predominant part of it, continues to tell the world we are a British Colony. No national movement of power is advocating a new flag and current thinking is that a new flag can naturally follow after Australia becomes a Republic, probably in 2024 or 2025. I fervently hope so.

In the meantime, our Aboriginal Flag has gained prominence and will continue be a permanent presence in the life of Australia even though many people are of the strong belief that Australia can have only one flag. Actually, we have three as Torres Strait Islanders have one too, but most of us have not been aware of it. If we really want to get round to considering the entire realm of our flags, all six States and both Territories have flags, so this makes 11 flags in all.

Now, to come to the current controversy.

During our national remembrance of the death of Queen Elizabeth, an indigenous protester publicly burned the Australian Flag, declaring that it commemorates the British Invasion of Australia that occurred when the First Fleet arrived in 1788. This resulted in the dispossession of land occupied by Indigenous people for 65000 years and the deaths of 30000 of them by gunfire and 100,000 by the diseases of white civilisation. In remembering this, it is important to note that no indigenous tribe ever surrendered or ceded their land to the British. It remains their own to this day.

While all this is true, Elizabeth was not personally responsible for it, nor is anyone living on our continent right now. So, the burning of our flag is offensive to most of our people. However, we will become very much to blame if we fail to do something positive about recognising Indigenous heritage and granting them a legislated advisory voice that they are entitled to in the affairs of the nation.

Our first opportunity to do this is via the Voice Referendum, currently scheduled to be held sometime in 2023. If it is passed, it will create a constitutional entity to which Aborigines will elect representatives. Those representatives will have power to debate any issues that relate to their people and present them to our Federal Parliament for consideration, However, Parliament will be under no legal obligation to approve them.

I can see no valid reason why this referendum should not pass. Indigenous people were not consulted when the Australian Constitution was drafted and approved in 1901 and they are not mentioned in it except to say they are the responsibility of the States. They have a fundamental right to be recognised as human beings and this small step will recognise it.

(It is appropriate also that I should mention too that women were not consulted about the Constitution in 1901).

Once this first step is taken, consideration can be given to the signing of a Treaty in the same spirit as was intended in the negotiation of the Waitangi Treaty in New Zealand in 1840.

The blunt fact is that if the Voice Referendum is defeated, the issue will not ever go away. It will remain as a festering sore of our national life forever so nothing will be gained by running away from it. We cannot hide behind the fact that dispossession of indigenous people has happened on every other continent. That fact of history does not make it right.

Nevertheless, having said all of the above, I strongly hold the view that the burning of our National Flag last week was unjustified.

Indeed, it was also very naive politics as it has lost the support of many people who were intending to vote YES. It was quite simply insulting and WRONG.

That lost ground means that much more positive work will have to be done to make sure that the referendum wins.

Sincerely,

Everald Compton

A proud Australian who intends to vote YES and campaign strongly for a YES vote. It’s time.

ULURU REFERENDUM.

It is now time for Australians to vote in a Referendum that embeds the basic principles of the Uluru Statement into the Constitution of Australia.

This historic milestone must not be delayed beyond this year and, as the Prime Minister has affirmed that his government is ready to pass legislation enabling the Referendum to be held, it is highly possible to achieve this.

As my contribution to the debate, here is wording I believe should be voted into the Constitution as Section 129, with the heading FIRST AUSTRALIANS.

*An Assembly will be established called FIRST AUSTRALIANS, in acknowledgement of the heritage of the oldest culture in the world.

It shall

*be elected by a democratic vote of indigenous persons managed by the Australian Electoral Commission.

*consist of not more than 50 members who shall serve five year terms.

*formulate policies relating to the livelihood of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and present these to Parliament annually.

Parliament shall have

*no obligation to approve the recommended policies, but shall debate them and formally convey responses to the Assembly within one year.

*powers to make laws relating to the functions and procedures of the Assembly.

Let me have your thoughts on how these words can be improved.

In doing so, I suggest you note these thoughts.

I have used the least possible number of words as the more words that are used the more doubts can be created in the minds of voters by opponents who see words as an opportunity to nitpick.

I am aware that significant leaders of indigenous communities would like the name of the Assembly to be FIRST NATIONS VOICE but I have the firm view that this will cause the referendum to fail as many Australians will feel that it recognises indigenous people as a separate nation.

The Constitution states that to gain approval, a Referendum must not only gain a nationwide majority of votes for YES, voters in four out of 6 States must vote YES. This is a huge task and I hope that you will join me in working for its achievement.

It is important that FIRST AUSTRALIANS is part of the Constitution rather than it being created by an Act of Parliament as that can be amended or removed by a subsequent government.

As this year is the 30th anniversary of the Mabo decision of the High Court to recognise the land rights of Indigenous Australians, it is fitting that Australia now takes this next step forward in continuing to achieve a just society.

Written with a genuine sense of history in the making.

Everald

PS. Read my book DINNER WITH THE FOUNDING FATHERS to discover why aborigines, as they were then called, were omitted from the Australian Constitution.

EVERALD@LARGE

Click on Books.

THE ENDEAVOUR

American Marine Scientists have discovered the remains of the Endeavour, the fine old ship sailed by Captain James Cook on his voyage of discovery along the Eastern Seaboard of Australia in 1770.

It lies at the bottom of the harbour at Newport, Rhode Island, where it was scuttled during the American War of Independence long after Cook had died on his third world voyage.

My hope is that the remnants of the Endeavour can be brought Australia and placed in a new Museum which can be built at Cooktown. There, it can become part of an international study centre on the enormous impact it had on life on the Australian continent, changing forever the proud heritage of 65000 years of indigenous habitation.

Sadly, we are now at a time in Australian history where an influential minority are demonising James Cook, accusing him of being the originator of every social and economic problem that Indigenous Australians have faced, and will face, into an uncertain future.

However, I am one who seeks to differ quite passionately, but courteously.

Let us look objectively at what Cook and the Endeavour actually did. Continue reading “THE ENDEAVOUR”

EVERALD’s ELECTION EDICT

We are two weeks into the 2016 Australian Election and I have waited in vain to hear any policies of vision and conviction from either the Coalition, the Opposition or the Greens that will stir my passion as a proud Australian who wants to build and expand the quality of our nation.

Sadly, I have stared at a barren waste.

Our politicians have missed the heart beat of the nation. They are talking to the old fashioned electorate of yesteryear that no long exists. Continue reading “EVERALD’s ELECTION EDICT”