Anthony Albanese has blasted Adam Bandt over his refusal to appear alongside the Australian flag because it offends some Aboriginal people.
The Prime Minister said he was proud of the flag and accused the Greens leader of looking for ‘division’.
Mr Bandt’s staff removed the flag from behind their leader before a press conference in Sydney on Monday.
Speaking in Hobart on Wednesday, Mr Albanese said: ‘I’m always very proud to stand in front of the Australian flag and I think anyone who is a member of the Australian Parliament should do so as well.
‘Reconciliation is about bringing people together. On the journey that we need to undertake.
‘It is undermined if people look for division rather than look for unity.
‘A range of people I respect have made strong comments. I respect them. And I just say to Mr Bandt that he needs to think about the responses that have been made and reconsider his position and work to promote unity and work to promote reconciliation.’
Earlier Liberal MP Phil Thompson, who survived a bomb exploding a metre in front of him in Afghanistan, described the Greens leader as a ‘national disgrace’.
He said his wife Jenna, who is Aboriginal, was ‘disgusted’ by the stunt.
Phil Thompson (pictured with wife Jenna and one of his two daughters) described the Greens leader as a ‘national disgrace’
Mr Thompson said his wife Jenna, who is Aboriginal, was ‘disgusted’ after Mr Bandt’s staff removed the flag from behind him before a press conference in Sydney on Monday
Mr Bandt refuses to appear with the flag because it reminds some Indigenous Australians of colonisation.
Mr Thompson, shadow assistant defence minister and MP for Herbert in north Queensland, wrote on Twitter: ‘My wife is a proud Aboriginal woman & disgusted by the leader of the Green’s media stunt and his rhetoric of division.
‘I take the importance of the ANF very seriously I fought underneath it my brothers who were Killed In Action have had our flag draped over their coffin.’
Speaking later to Sky News, he accused Mr Bandt of trying to ‘divide the nation.’
‘We must always recognise and acknowledge the past but the way we move forward as a nation is to walk together,’ he said.
A member of Mr Bandt’s staff was seen removing the flag from the behind the podium before the presser at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Offices in Sydney on Monday.
Greens leader Adam Bandt (pictured today in front of the Aboriginal flag and Torres Strait Island flag) has caused a stir by refusing to stand alongside the Australian national flag in a press conference
One journalist said she saw a Greens staffer remove the Australian flag from behind the podium before Mr Bandt spoke – leaving the Torres Strait Island and Aboriginal flags in place
The move meant that only the Aboriginal flag and Torres Strait Island flag could be seen behind him as he spoke to the cameras.
Mr Bandt told Daily Mail Australia the nation’s flag reminds some people of Australia’s colonisation.
The flag, first flown after federation in 1901, has the Union Jack in the upper left corner to acknowledge the history of British settlement.
‘For many Australians, this flag represents dispossession and the lingering pains of colonisation,’ Mr Bandt said.
‘Through Treaty with First Nations’ Peoples and by moving to a Republic, we can have a flag that represents all of us.’
A review of Mr Bandt’s previous TV interviews shows he always has the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags in the background, but never the nation’s flag.
Mr Bandt added later that the Union Jack symbol is hurtful to Indigenous Australians.
Left to right: Greens MP for Griffith Max Chandler-Mather, leader Adam Bandt, senator elect Penny Allman-Payne and Senator Larissa Waters