Aboriginal flag on Anzac Hill: it’s not over yet

p2510 Council flag petition 660

 

By KIERAN FINNANE

 

A petition with more than 1000 signatories has stalled the Town Council’s formal vote on flying the Aboriginal flag on Anzac Hill.

 

At the council committees meeting a fortnight ago five councillors including the Mayor indicated that they would vote down a motion to fly the flag, no longer on 365 days of the year but on “ceremonial occasions” – days of importance to Aboriginal people.

 

The Arrernte and Central Australian Aboriginal Strong Women’s Group were not taking this lying down,  launching their petition on change.org

 

It reads in part:

 

“WE believe flying the flag would be a positive step towards unity, inclusion and reconciliation. It would mean the first time in the history of this country that two “sacred” sites would and could co-exist. Help us fly the Aboriginal Flag on Anzac Hill by signing this petition.”

 

At last night’s meeting Councillor Catherine Satour presented council with a print-out of the signatories to date, at that time 1034. By early this morning another 30 had been added.

 

Cr Satour described the petition as “a very strong representation of the community that is in support of the flag”.

 

Armed with a by-law that specifies that a petition received be held over for consideration at the next month’s meeting, she gained a month during which to build further momentum on the issue.

 

 

 

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17 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. Bill Adamson
    Posted March 23, 2018 at 12:03 pm

    My father opened the Anzac Hill monument as he was the first Alice Springs president of the RSL and with Bill Heffernan and Alf Turner were the first WW1 volunteers from Alice Springs to enlist.
    Rev Harry Griffiths gave the blessing to it. I have photos of this event.
    Anzac Hill has nothing to do with Aboriginal significance and should not be a political football used by part white-Aboriginal shit stirrers.
    If any full or part Aboriginal fought in any armed forces of Australia conflicts it was under the Union Jack and Southern Cross flag. NONE ELSE. Leave it alone. No false flags on Anzac Hill.

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  2. Hal Duell
    Posted March 7, 2018 at 1:54 pm

    Why doesn’t the Alice Springs Town Council get proactive on this and organise a well publicised public questionnaire of its own?
    Do the residents of Alice Springs want the Aboriginal flag to fly from the top of Anzac Hill?
    Do the residents of Alice Springs want the Torres Straits Islander flag to fly from the top of Anzac Hill?
    A point worth considering is that the two flags currently flying are inclusive. The Australian flag represents all Australians. The Territory flag represents all Territorians. The two contenders are by definition exclusive.

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  3. Posted March 7, 2018 at 8:29 am

    @ Fiona: There’s some kind of irony in appealing for symbolic unity under an Aboriginal flag when Kittles, an Aboriginal-owned company is continuously trashed by children of Native Title holders.
    It suggests that there’s some other law at work and that trying to construct a body of politically-inspired law has limited chances of changing anything.
    Whilst I don’t doubt the sincerity of your attempt to unify, I make the suggestion that the practical method of law enforcement, alcohol supply reduction and housing in Alice Springs for those who may wish to leave remote communities for education and employment opportunities in town has better prospects than adding to the divisions on the hill.

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  4. Fiona Walsh
    Posted March 6, 2018 at 9:47 am

    Of course the Aboriginal flag must fly on ANZAC hill (aka Atnelkentyarliweke). In my view, it should so as to:
    – show respect to the modern Aboriginal population that those who are Other Australians live amongst
    – remind us that the lands of Alice Springs were occupied and cared for by thousands of generations of Aboriginal people before European colonisation
    – recognise we all live on or nearby legally-determined native title lands
    – acknowledge the Aboriginal people who have died on the slopes and surrounds of Anzac hill
    – honour the Aboriginal servicemen and women who died in defence of Australia and their country

    These are sufficient reasons for the Aboriginal flag to continuously fly on top of a hill that is a sacred site, a memorial site and a major focus for locals and visitors. Both symbolic and practical actions are needed in Alice Springs.
    The link to a petition is here – https://www.change.org/p/alice-springs-town-council-fly-the-aboriginal-flag-on-anzac-hill-alice-springs

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  5. Concerned Arrernte
    Posted March 2, 2018 at 7:39 pm

    Well, its looks like common sense will prevail. The Aboriginal flag will fly on Anzac Hill. I for one believe its a big step towards healing our town.

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  6. Evelyne Roullet
    Posted March 2, 2018 at 2:27 pm

    Yes Steve, and I am not really happy about it: I signed it, believing it was all, but horror, my French relatives seen it on Facebook! And signed thinking to do me a favour! I have not put it on Facebook so who has?

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  7. Laurence
    Posted March 2, 2018 at 2:26 pm

    This petition is to ask the local council to fly the Aboriginal flag on ANZAC Hill.
    So therefore it is a local issue and as such should only be available to local input or only have the local petitioners be counted.
    The bandwagon jumpers that have added their two cents’ worth to this community discussion will only cause more confusion and cloud the issue further.
    From a population of about 27,000(ish) having a thousand signatures is an insignificant number, less than 4% of the population, and that is without dismissing the “non-local” input.

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  8. OMG
    Posted March 2, 2018 at 8:04 am

    The Aboriginal flag is a National Flag of Australia, one of only three, and is governed by a Commonwealth Act, therefore voiding the requirement for only locals to sign the petition.
    The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet state that permission is not needed to fly a National Flag so why are they being forced to ask permission and petition?
    These women are not as ignorant as some like to think. In fact they are exercising their express right, enforcing a Commonwealth Law and acting out the strength and smart they claimed in their original statement. Go ladies, show what real community consultation looks like!

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  9. Steve Brown
    Posted March 1, 2018 at 6:07 pm

    I’ve been reliably informed that the petition is not signed by a thousand locals but by persons from right across the globe. As such it makes a contemptuous mockery of local opinion and should be treated with the distain that it deserves.
    Any petition must carry the names and the residential addresses of those who sign so that they may be verified.

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  10. Alice Local
    Posted March 1, 2018 at 9:56 am

    Pretty sure there’s more important issues around Alice Springs than a flag on Anzac Hill.

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  11. Julie Taylor
    Posted March 1, 2018 at 9:53 am

    I am shocked at some of the responses above. Without question, on days chosen to fly any flags, the Aboriginal flag must be included, whatever the occasion!
    Firstly, as acknowledgement of the Indigenous people who lived here before white man (and since).
    Secondly, if the hill must be maintained as a memorial to war events involving Australia, then the inclusion of Australian Aborigines as soldiers in our wars must be so acknowledged because they are so often forgotten.
    Flying the flag would definitely be a step towards inclusion and reconciliation, with such a public recognition of two “sacred” sites co-existing.

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  12. Evelyne Roullet
    Posted March 1, 2018 at 8:22 am

    Remembering and honouring our dead takes more than flags and poppies once or twice a year.
    While we come together to remember fallen soldiers, we should reflect on the fact they died in vain. They went selflessly. They fought bravely. They sacrificed nobly for us to live in peace.
    They lived in the best traditions of duty, honour and country, and as long as we bicker and fight for small things they died for nothing and we should be ashamed.

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  13. Posted February 28, 2018 at 5:31 pm

    I’m currently delving into the history of flying flags on Anzac Hill.
    The two current prominent flag poles were erected in 1989 as part of a major upgrade of the top of Anzac Hill commencing with the removal of the old watertank allowing for increased parking and improved traffic flow.
    I think it was at this time that the NT flag first flew permanently at the top of Anzac Hill, alongside the national flag. This prompted the first call, by the Central Land Council in late 1989, to also fly the Aboriginal flag atop the hill, too – this was rejected by the Alice Springs Town Council.
    What we all appear to have forgotten is that before 1989 there were four standard flag poles at the Anzac Memorial, these were used for flying the national flag and three armed services flags on special occasions such as Anzac Day and Armistice Day.
    I can’t recall if the Commonwealth flag flew on its mast constantly but I think probably not as vandalism was a constant headache for the management of the memorial site.
    However, what is definitely the case is that up until late 1989 nobody ever called for the flying of the Aboriginal flag or any others on top of Anzac Hill.
    This debate was triggered by the deep political and ideological divide that existed in the NT during the early period of NT Self-Government, and what is occurring now is simply a renewal of this polarising argument by a new generation oblivious to recent political history.
    It was a mistake to erect those two prominent flag poles in 1989 as they serve only to emphasise political division in our community.

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  14. Ian Rennie
    Posted February 28, 2018 at 4:26 pm

    Anzac Hill, our servicemen fought and many died under the Australian flag. To the majority this is the significance of that site even though there were some Aboriginals in our armed forces.
    I suppose we could be kind and allow the other flag up there on special occasions, even Anzac Day, but every day of the year? No way!
    There are too many concessions being made, what mob are going to want their flag up there next?

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  15. Local 1
    Posted February 28, 2018 at 1:51 pm

    Postpone any decision until the next election, where a separate question could be asked of all voters, do you support it.
    This could only work if the Act allowed for it, but would be a better indication of the will of the ratepayer/resident.
    Like most of these minority groups, they never take no for an answer, they just keep going and going until they get a yes, not because it’s what the people want, but rather they just want the constant debate to be over. Beaten into submission is the expression.

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  16. Neil Armstrong
    Posted February 28, 2018 at 1:08 pm

    Maybe the debate should move to replacing the NT flag with an Aboriginal flag.
    NT flag and poles were recently erected at both ends of the town without consultation.
    Surely the NT government local MLAs would be in support of this proposal.

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  17. Mark Wilson
    Posted February 27, 2018 at 5:10 pm

    If indeed, as stated by Cr Satour, that the petition is “a very strong representation of the community that is in support of the flag” it is nevertheless a very poor result for the fly the flag case. While 1000 plus people is significant, it falls well short, indeed even close, to the majority of residents.
    Perhaps we need to move away from pressure groups attempting to impose either view and instead get our Alice Springs Town Council to collect signatures and addresses of all interested residents.
    The front desk at the council is one way to collect a true feeling over – say – a two week period without significant expense. Out of towners could email their vote.

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