Government asks: What's the best way to dispose of a flag?

THE Coalition Government is seeking feedback from the community on the best and most appropriate way for Australians to retire used, damaged and worn out Australian National Flags.

Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister Senator the Hon. James McGrath said existing protocols around the use of the National Flag did not include specific guidelines on how to retire a damaged or dilapidated flag with appropriate dignity and respect.

"Currently, our Flag Protocols state that when the material of a flag deteriorates it should be destroyed privately and in a dignified way, however there is often confusion about how best to achieve this," Senator McGrath said.

"Our National Flag is a symbol of great importance to all Australians, so it seems fitting that people have the opportunity to reflect on the significance of our flag in a meaningful way at the end of its service also."

Senator James McGrath.
Senator James McGrath. ALAN PORRITT / AAP

Senator McGrath said a Flag Retirement Protocol Consultation Paper had been sent to key stakeholders around Australia to start this important discussion.

"In particular, the government is interested in community views on changes to the flag protocols to include guidance on conducting a retirement ceremony for used Australian National Flags," Senator McGrath said.

"We believe this may be a good option for schools, clubs, or organisations looking for a sense of formality around flag retirement."

Chair of the Australian National Flag Association Mr Allan Pidgeon said the proposed changes would offer the community a more dignified way to retire a National Flag.

"The Australian National Flag is proudly displayed by many community organisations, schools, clubs and individuals around Australia, as a symbol of great honour and pride," he said.

"The inclusion of a retirement ceremony in the official flag protocols would ensure the national flag was appropriately decommissioned, whilst providing an opportunity to reflect on the flag, its history and its symbolic importance to our nation."

For a copy of the Australian Government's Flag Retirement Protocol Consultation Paper or to provide feedback on flag retirement options please visit: www.dpmc.gov.au/flag. Submissions are due by end of February 2017.



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