No-one, least of all a national leader, has the right to exercise proprietorial rights over his nation’s flag. Yet that is what, implicitly, our strutting bantam has done since he set out to coerce us back into the gloom of our pre-enlightenment past.

Never has the national emblem been draped so royally behind the prime minister of the day; never has the governor-general’s job been such a sinecure; and not since John Kerr has our parliament been treated with such contempt.

Yet, this week, there was John Howard at it again. This man who mouths freedom of speech — the man who tears family values apart with his policies yet preaches family first; the man who puts “the economy” ahead of every other decent human instinct; this man who puts Australian dollars before the health of the planet; this man, who with George W. Bush and Tony Blair, through a mindless, unthought-out grab for a place in history, has become responsible for scores of deaths in Iraq every day; this born-again jingoist; this man who proceeds with head held high from lie to lie — peevishly tells a rock-festival group, which seems to believe the Southern Cross no longer stands for integrity, generosity and goodwill, that it is wrong for it to suggest a ban on the national flag from its popular annual event. This from a man whose imperious postures have sucked almost dry the reservoir of decency Australian leaders have built over the years since PM John Gorton in the late 1960s.

And what is Queensland’s little white hope up to, joining in the Howard chorus, shocked that a few decent thinkers have decided it is time a stand was made against the misuse and besmirching of our flag?

Kevin Rudd, who looked so promising as a coherent, fluent, cogent foreign-affairs shadow, left me floored when, on his ascent to opposition leader, declared he stood for “middle Australia”. Hey, I’m middle Australia and I’m doing very nicely, thank you, in booming, bottom-line Aussie. And I know of many other “middle Australians” who acknowledge that they are doing nicely. And not one of them wants Rudd standing for them alone at the expense of anyone else, whether they be “top” or “bottom” Australians. What we want is a decent deal for all those marginalised Australians (either through the destruction of the union movement or the IR laws) and minority groups (including the Muslim community) who are slagged off by our nation’s neo-fascist leaders who preach that they and the flag are one.

No wonder Big Day Out leaders have ideas about a flag-free, breathe-some- fresh-air, let’s-all-just-for-a-moment spend a few hours in peace and harmony.

Sadly, it’s not likely to happen. Big Day Out? More likely, Big Brother Is Watching, and “Don’t you dare not fly the symbol of our new, economically rationalist, hard-edged inhumanity.”

Me? I rather get on well with the planet, or whatever John Howard cares to be left of it.

Bob Hawkins,
Tinderbox

 

Bob Hawkins 

Yet, this week, there was John Howard at it again. This man who mouths freedom of speech — the man who tears family values apart with his policies yet preaches family first; the man who puts “the economy” ahead of every other decent human instinct; this man who puts Australian dollars before the health of the planet; this man, who with George W. Bush and Tony Blair, through a mindless, unthought-out grab for a place in history, has become responsible for scores of deaths in Iraq every day; this born-again jingoist; this man who proceeds with head held high from lie to lie — peevishly tells a rock-festival group, which seems to believe the Southern Cross no longer stands for integrity, generosity and goodwill, that it is wrong for it to suggest a ban on the national flag from its popular annual event. This from a man whose imperious postures have sucked almost dry the reservoir of decency Australian leaders have built over the years since PM John Gorton in the late 1960s.

And what is Queensland’s little white hope up to, joining in the Howard chorus, shocked that a few decent thinkers have decided it is time a stand was made against the misuse and besmirching of our flag?