LATER this week, we as a nation will be celebrating Australian National Flag Day marking 116 years since our national flag was first flown over the dome of the Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne.
Since 1901, our national flag has been a uniting symbol of pride in our nation.
Something that brings together all Australians in times of war and in peace, through triumph and defeat, for both the good times and the bad.
As we mark this special occasion, I am highly disappointed that some government buildings, including Hobart City Council, instead of flying our national flag are engaging once again in virtue signalling and political correctness.
No matter what one’s view on a particular issue, campaign materials including flags should not be flown on our public buildings.
It’s a principle that has served us very well.
For instance, the flag pole outside my electorate office only flies the Australian flag — our pre-eminent symbol of national unity.
Come campaign time, I don’t fly the Liberal logo.
For the marriage survey, I won’t be hoisting a vote “No” flag.
Nor should I.
To exercise the maturity and self-discipline to not abuse public institutions and facilities to cheer on one’s particular side of a debate is a true test of leadership.
A test which the Hobart City Council has dismally failed.
The principle’s basis is obvious.
Our public institutions and facilities need to be above the fray and dedicated to the service of all and not championing pet causes.
This imperative is applicable at all times but never more so than when a campaign is under way.
So the Hobart City Council’s decision to fly a flag promoting changing the definition of marriage sits uncomfortably not only with one brave alderman, Tanya Denison, but thousands of ratepayers and council staff who hold a differing view.
Forcing the many staff to physically work under such a flag does not enhance or celebrate diversity.
In fact, it displays a vulgar intolerance and insensitivity to those of an alternate view.
The alternate view is brazenly told they don’t count.
Recently the Finance Department in Canberra did a similar thing leading to complaints by staff, including a Muslim.
Their personal discomfort in their own workplace was, at best, simply ignored or ridiculed all in the name of “diversity”.
The irony of the politically correct officials promoting “diversity” yet upsetting staff was lost in the ideological campaign of virtue signalling.
The Department will tell you they received no complaints.
One wonders why?
Yet parliamentarians are asked to take up the issue against a department busily convincing itself how inclusive it has become.
Its inclusivity is for one side deliberately alienating the other side.
Hardly a recipe for workplace harmony, tolerance and acceptance.
Similarly, it was an abuse by union officials writing slogans on public ambulances during the last federal election.
Patients in need of emergency care should never be confronted by their publicly funded ambulances carrying political slogans.
The strength of our society, democracy and rule of law has been based on, among other things, the virtue of keeping our public facilities free from being hijacked by partisan activists.
This principled demarcation requires integrity.
It requires self-discipline. It requires acceptance that the public service and facilities needs to be preserved and kept above the fray.
It requires principled leadership.
The recent overreach by the Hobart City Council and its trashing of long-established protocols sets the unwelcome and unhealthy precedent for ratepayer-funded facilities to be similarly abused in future campaigns on all sorts of issues.
The test is really quite straightforward.
How comfortable would the small group that cheered the rainbow flag last Friday feel if a “Vote No — Preserve Marriage” flag was hoisted instead?
We know the answer and that is why mature restraint in these matters is essential for a well-functioning democracy.
It’s my hope that all taxpayer-funded institutions see sense and refrain from engaging in such campaigns and instead stick to flying our national flags.