Greens leader Adam Bandt ‘recoiled’ when he was offered a miniature flag at an Australia Day citizenship ceremony, a Labor MP has revealed.
Bandt was criticised on Monday after he refused to stand alongside the Australian national flag at a press conference, with a member of his staff removing it before he spoke. He later told Daily Mail Australia that the flag represents colonisation and dispossession.
Now, Peter Khalil, Labor MP for Wills, has revealed how Bandt refused to take a miniature flag when the two appeared at a ceremony together.
‘I was at a citizenship ceremony and Adam Bandt was there. All the people there who were new Australian citizens were waving those little Australian flags and I was waving one,’ Khalil told Sky News.
‘He was sitting next to me and I was like ‘here you go mate, why don’t you have one of these’, and he completely stonewalled me. I thought it was very odd.’
Khalil’s comments come as Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe blasted the Australian flag as an ‘obscenity’.
Adam Bandt and wife Claudia Perkins. He has come under fire after he removed the Australian flag before a press conference on Monday
One journalist said she saw a Greens staffer remove the Australian flag from behind the podium before Adam Bandt spoke on Monday – leaving the Torres Strait Island and Aboriginal flags in place
Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe, a close ally of Bandt, blasted the Australian flag as an ‘obscenity’
‘The Australian flag represents a colonial invasion, which massacred and murdered thousands of Aboriginal women, men and children,’ the indigenous senator told 3AW.
‘For First Nations people that flag is absurd. It’s an obscenity. The Australian flag does not represent me. It does not represent my family and it does not represent many clans and nations around this country.’
Senator Thorpe’s comments appeared to be in support of Bandt, who has come under fire for his removal of the flag at Monday’s press conference.
‘It’s becoming a little bit childish for leaders to be virtue-signalling about who loves Aboriginal people more,’ Northern Territory Senator Jacinta Price said.
‘Adam Bandt is a man desperately trying to grab attention,’ added former Labor senator Stephen Conroy.
‘Here’s a bloke that in his heart believed he would be a minister after the election he truly did believe he would have his hands on the reigns of power and he is just deeply, deeply bitter about it.
‘Frankly we should just ignore him because he is going to keep having to do these cheap pathetic stunts to try and draw attention to himself.’
The flag, first flown after federation in 1901, has the Union Jack in the upper left corner to acknowledge the history of British settlement.
Peter Khalil, Labor MP for Wills, has revealed how Bandt refused to take a miniature flag when the two appeared at a ceremony together
Mr Bandt does not have an Australian flag in his office in parliament (pictured during a live cross with Sky News)
‘For many Australians, this flag represents dispossession and the lingering pains of colonisation,’ Bandt said on Monday.
‘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 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.
Bandt added later that the Union Jack symbol is hurtful to Indigenous Australians.
He also used the press conference on Monday to urge Labor to ‘have a discussion’ with his party about its 43 per cent emissions reduction target.
The Greens – who have blocking power in the Senate with a record 12 seats – want more ambitious targets but Anthony Albanese has said the figure is not negotiable.
Bandt did not commit to supporting enshrining the targets in legislation, meaning he could block them, just like former leader Bob Brown blocked Labor’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme in 2009.
‘Labor is bringing a weak target to Parliament that means the end of the Great Barrier Reef,’ he said.
‘Labor is now an obstacle to greater climate action and they are refusing to listen to the will of the people who have just delivered a big mandate for climate mandates at the election.’
The new government has already told the UN about its updated target and says it does not matter if the target is not supported by the Parliament.
Opposition leader Peter Dutton has ruled out coalition support for legislating the 2030 target after taking a 26-28 per cent reductions target to the last election.Bandt says the Greens would not follow the coalition’s lead and be obstructive.
‘We’re prepared to be constructive,’ he said.
‘But really the first question, the fork in the road, is is the government prepared to talk and to consider sensible amendments.’
Labor ruled out any deals with the minor party after the coalition ran attacks against the ALP during the campaign, saying it would be pulled to the left by the Greens.
Bandt also said the Energy Security Board was wrong to recommend gas and coal-fired generators as an ongoing part of the energy mix, while renewable energy and storage gradually takes over the national electricity grid.
The board’s chair said underwriting coal and gas companies by including them in a proposed capacity mechanism will not impact the country’s transition to renewable energy.
Bandt instead wants to move to renewables as quickly as possible.
Australia’s national flag
The flag, first flown after federation in 1901, has three elements on a dark blue background: the Union Jack, the Commonwealth Star and the Southern Cross.
The Union Jack in the upper left corner acknowledges the history of British settlement.
Below the Union Jack is a white Commonwealth star. It has seven points representing the unity of the six states and the territories of the Commonwealth of Australia. The star is also featured on the Commonwealth Coat of Arms.
The Southern Cross is shown on the flag in white. It is a constellation of five stars that can be easily seen from the night skies of the southern hemisphere and is a reminder of Australia’s geography.