MEDIA RELEASE

Friday 9 September 1994

"THE THINGS THAT FLUTTER"

Australian Democrats Support Ausflag Proposal

The Australian Democrats have voted to support the Ausflag proposal regarding a flag change and "make sure we use the word `plebiscite′ instead of referendum, and to look more closely at the issue on non-citizens voting", the Executive Director of Ausflag, Harold Scruby said today.

In spite of the recently announced "The Things That Matter" policy document of the Coalition which calls for the preservation of the current British Blue Ensign forever, it is unlikely that the Coalition′s Senate Bill requiring a "referendum" before the Australian flag can be changed, now has any chance of success, Mr Scruby said.

The Liberal/National Party Bill was a cynical attempt to link the Australian flag and the Republican issue together, when they have no connection in fact. The former requires an Act of Parliament and the latter requires a Referendum. It is almost impossible to find any precedents either in Australia or internationally, where a referendum has been required before a national flag can be changed. The several changes to the Australian flag and even the changes to the Union Jack all took place by decree or Act of Parliament and without any consultation with the people, Mr Scruby added.

Although even a `plebiscite′ is not required to change the flag, it has been Ausflag′s policy since inception, that the flag should not change without the popular support of the Australian people and that we support a `plebiscite′ based on the Australian National Anthem plebiscite of 1977, where Australians were given the choice of four tunes, he said.

Mr Scruby said it was also encouraging to know that the Democrats were going to review the issue of non-citizens (British subjects) voting. Ausflag is committed to the policy that only Australian citizens should have the right to determine the destiny of the Australian flag.