The Executive Director of Ausflag, Mr Harold Scruby said today: "One of Australia′s most widely respected political journalists, Mr Laurie Oakes, appeared on Channel 9′s `Today Show′ this morning and was asked to comment on Mr Howard′s `flag referendum proposal.′ He replied:"

"It′s a stunt. Last Wednesday, two days ago, the Government issued a six page document setting out its legislation for the first session of Parliament. That flag legislation wasn′t even on it. John Howard rushed out on Anzac Day and announced he was going to legislate, he said, to ensure that the flag cannot be changed without a referendum. Now no legislation can do that. If the Howard Government passes this legislation, any future Government can repeal it, so it means nothing. I actually agree with Kim Beazley, I think doing it on Anzac Day is a bit crass ... But the main thing is this legislation which John Howard claims will prevent the flag from being changed without a referendum does nothing of the sort. It′s just a stunt."

Mr Scruby said: "Mr Oakes has told me in the past that he does not want the flag to change. This morning′s statement therefore adds significant weight to his views."

Mr Scruby added: "The most recent AGB McNair poll (SMH 26 January 1995) found that 50 per cent of Australians favoured adopting a new flag in which the Union Jack is not featured, as opposed to 46 per cent against. A Newspoll survey (Telegraph Mirror 19 August 1994) revealed that 59% of Australia′s Olympic and Commonwealth Games gold medallists want a new flag (53% favour becoming a republic)."

He said: "Mr Howard promised to take the divisiveness out of Australian politics and govern `for all of us′. This is hardly a good start."