My Speech to Parliament on Australian National Flag Day




Tuesday 6 September 2022

Saturday 3 September was an important day for the people of Australia and my electorate of Canning.

We celebrated National Flag Day, honouring the 121st anniversary of the day our flag was first flown. National Flag Day has a special significance for the people in my district: Annie Dorrington, one of the winners of Prime Minister Edmund Barton's flag competition, was a long-time resident of Serpentine, right in the heart of Canning.

Since that day in September 1901, this national flag alone has symbolised our national character. It has been raised by Australian troops over battlefields for well over a century. It's the flag that flew over HMAS Sydney after her 1914 victory over the German warship SMS Emden. It was flown by diggers at Gallipoli and was raised at Pozieres. There was only one Australian national flag raised at Kokoda after it was recaptured. Only one flag was hand-stitched in Changi prison and kept hidden from the Japanese by Captain Strawbridge MBE in a calico bag inside his pillow. That flag was a symbol of hope for Australian prisoners of war and was raised over the gates of the camp when it was liberated in 1945. Australian Defence Force personnel have proudly worn it on operations over the last 20 years. One of my SAS patrol commanders, Adam, carried our flag beneath his body armour on every combat mission that the Australian government deployed him on. It was a reminder to him of whom he was serving: the Australian people, our values and our interests.

I'm proud of the Australian flag and what it represents. It's the only flag that I wore on my left shoulder in the Australian Defence Force, it's the only flag I was prepared to fight and die for on operations, and it's the only flag that I serve as a Commonwealth parliamentarian. For new Australians, it's the flag they have chosen to stand under. Many migrants have fled war-torn, impoverished countries to seek a better life here in Australia. Just look at the pride with which the member for Fowler wore the flag yesterday. She can attest to the fact that the flag binds new Australians to the rest of us. It's a symbol of aspiration and unity that has flown now for more than a century—but not for some members of Labor, the Greens and the teals.

The Greens are, of course, ashamed of our national flag. The member for Melbourne hides it in his press conferences. Labor and the teals are confused, posting on social media images of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags on our national flag day. The member for Kooyong even claimed we have three national flags. I have no issue with those flags. They are proud symbols full of meaning for our Indigenous Australians. But they are not our national flag.

And so I hope the Australian national flag makes us all feel a sense of gratitude for this country and a responsibility to preserve it. That's why I serve in parliament and why we must work together under one flag to defend the things that we love.