Federal Greens leader Adam Bandt has been slammed after he decided to remove the Australian flag from behind the lectern in a press conference on Monday.
The Melbourne MP argued that Australia had “work to do” on racism and that the flag was a hurtful symbol to many Indigenous Australians.
Following the statement, several current and former politicians have lashed out in response labelling the move “disappointing” and “immature”.
Indigenous leader Warren Mundine rejected Mr Bandt’s claims, saying it was inappropriate for a member of parliament to reject the Australian flag.
“It’s idiotic. Are the Greens actually in the Australian Federal Parliament? Seriously? Do they actually hate Australians that much,” Mundine told The Daily The Telegraph.
“Aboriginals call themselves Australians all the time.
“The Greens are just a fringe university type group trying to run down the country.”
While Northern Territory Senator Jacinta Price also questioned the move saying: “It’s becoming a little bit childish for leaders to be virtue-signalling about who loves Aboriginal people more”.
Former Labor senator Stephen Conroy slammed the move as an attention-seeking stunt.
“Adam Bandt is a man desperately trying to grab attention,” he told Sky News Australia.
“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.”
“I thought it was particularly unhelpful and inappropriate for him to co-opt Indigenous Australians as his excuse for why he doesn’t embrace the flag,” he told Sky News Australia.
“He made a choice to run for the Australian Parliament to represent the Australian people and we have the Australian flag as our national symbol and for him to distance himself from it reflects very poorly on him.”
Labor MP Peter Kahlil told Peter Stefanovic on Tuesday he had previously witnessed Mr Bandt’s disdain for the flag at a citizenship ceremony where he refused to wave the flag in celebration of the new Australians.
Mr Kahlil also admitted the flag can evoke some offence to certain people but said it still represented Australia and deserved respect.
“You’re a member of the Australian Parliament and yes the Australian flag and the Union Jack it evokes some offence to peoples not just Indigenous peoples,” he said.
“I’m of Egyptian background there was a British colonial period in Egypt but I’m an Australian and I’m a member of the Australian Parliament and despite some of that history the flag represents Australia.
“We might change it in the future, that’s fine, but right now that’s our flag but I respect that flag as a member of the Australian Parliament and so should other members of Parliament as the vast majority of Australian citizens do.”