A Mayoral Minute at Yass Valley Council’s July 28 meeting proposed the permanent flying of the Aboriginal Flag at Memorial Hall in Yass. The summary stated that the item was for “Presenting a proposal to fly the aboriginal Flag permanently at Memorial Hall, Yass in recognition of our first Australians.”

Yass Soldiers Memorial Hall – The aboriginal flag’s first day of flying permanently at the site

The Mayoral Minute recommended that “the Aboriginal flag be permanently flown together with the National flag at the front of the Memorial Hall.”

The report stated, “The state government has recently made an historic decision to remove the State flag and fly the Aboriginal flag on the Sydney Harbour Bridge in its stead. The NSW Flag dates from 1876 when New South Wales was still a British colony.

I have been requested to put this proposal to Council, and I support it. I regard it as due recognition of the first Australians, which in my view is well overdue.”

Councillor Kim Turner spoke against the recommendation. He said, “I have a number of concerns with this, not the least of which is that although the appearance at this point in time that it is a simple motion, it is actually incredible complex situation we are faced with. I don’t believe that we are in a position tonight to resolve the issue. I therefore foreshadow a motion that says that this matter should be a subject of a report to Council following further consultation with the RSL and the community at large.”

Councillor Turner stated that he would potentially be labelled a bigot and a racist, of which he said he was neither. He said, “This motion will create disunity in the community.”

Yass Valley Council mayoral minute under debate at the July  2022 meeting

He said he was very happy to see it fly on the Council Chambers but not on the shrine where the names of all of the people who had died for the country in various theatres of war.

Councillor Cameron said, “I thought this was going to be a straight forward motion and I didn’t make a lot of points, but I think this symbolism is an important way to recognise first nation’s people where perhaps it hadn’t been done that well in the past.” Councillor Cameron attended the NAIDOC week celebrations at the Memorial Hall and stated that many aboriginal soldiers had to go to great lengths to defend their country. “A lot of people did serve in the wars even in the Boer War…. I think indigenous people played their part as well.”

Mayor McGrath explained his position on the Mayoral Minute. He said, “People had come to me and said if we can fly it for a week, why can’t we fly it all year around….. I ask that you support the recommendation.”

The vote was taken, and it was resolved in the affirmative to place the flag at the Memorial Hall. However, it is expected that a recission motion may come before Council if the matter is not further discussed more broadly in the community. The vote was carried 5-3.

Read more: So much to learn about our Aboriginal Servicemen by Judith Davidson