Enemy combatants: Liberal Eric Abetz Photo: Alex Ellinghausen Labor MPs show off a rainbow flag. Photo: Andrew Meares
The rainbow flag has become a symbol for the marriage equality movement.
Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore with a rainbow flag outside Sydney Town Hall. Photo: Anna Kucera
A rainbow flag atop Victorian Parliament House last year. Photo: Penny Stephens
The Brandenburg Gate in Germany is seen with a rainbow flag projected onto it during a vigil for victims of the Orlando, Florida nightclub shooting. Photo: Adam Berry
For some it’s the symbol of gay and lesbian progress and the fight for equality, but for Liberal culture warrior Eric Abetz it’s the flag of a hostile nation that has declared war on .
Bureaucrats from the Department of Finance were baffled when the former minister used Senate estimates hearings on Tuesday to ask what protocols exist for the flying of flags inside government buildings.
He said a staff member of the department had reported that a rainbow flag, associated with the LGBTIQ community and the fight for same-sex marriage, had been displayed in the Finance foyer.
Senator Abetz told department officials and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann the flag’s presence and political nature might upset some staff members. He proposed a group opposed to same-sex marriage should have similar rights.
“To cut to the chase, there was the rainbow flag on display in the lobby which, believe it or not, some people see as an activist flag for a particular cause in relation to an issue of whether or not we should change the legislation on marriage and some people of course support that cause, others don’t.
“If that is allowed, then one imagines that the Marriage Alliance banner should be flown equally,” he said.
“If you allow one side of the debate, then you need to allow the other side and that is why I sought to determine upfront who is responsible for making these determinations.”
A prominent opponent of same-sex marriage, Senator Abetz said the flag represented a hostile nation that had declared war on .
“This particular flag, you will realise, is the flag of the Gay and Lesbian Kingdom of the Coral Sea Islands, that declared war on and you Senator Cormann would understand they did the same as Prince Leonard of Hutt River Province and now this is their official flag,” Senator Abetz said.
“Of course, it is the flag of a hostile nation if we are to believe them, having declared war on . I dare say that wasn’t the reason it was flown…”
In 2004, activists said n policies for gay and lesbian citizens had caused them to plant a flag in the Coral Sea Islands of the Great Barrier Reef, naming their own nation and declaring war on .
To date, the conflict has been limited to YouTube videos from n citizen Dale Parker Anderson, who has declared himself Emperor of the tiny nation.
Senator Abetz later asked why the Israeli flag hadn’t been flown during last week’s visit by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Officials said the issue would be raised at a future meeting of the department’s executive board.
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