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Flag debate angers RSL

Upset: Murwillumbah RSL Sub Branch president Derek Sims and hon secretary Kevin Cheetham think Anzac Day is not appropriate for a debate about changing the flag.
Upset: Murwillumbah RSL Sub Branch president Derek Sims and hon secretary Kevin Cheetham think Anzac Day is not appropriate for a debate about changing the flag. Crystal Spencer

THE Murwillumbah RSL Sub Branch has reacted angrily to plans for television show 60 Minutes to televise a Ray Martin-hosted debate about the Australian flag on Anzac Day.

President Derek Sims said to screen the debate on one of Australia’s most sacred days was an insult to those who had died with honour under the flag.

“We don’t object to a public discussion about whether the national flag is relevant, but it is not very appropriate to have the discussion on Anzac Day, held in honour of the blokes who died under that flag.”

Mr Sims said the debate would be “like rubbing salt into the wounds” of many diggers who had fought under the Australian flag.

Members of the Murwillumbah Sub Branch decided to write to the television network, Ray Martin, the RSL State headquarters in Sydney and the Australian National Flag Association (ANFA).

Mr Sims said members present included veterans from World War II, Korea, The Malayan and Borneo campaigns, Vietnam, Gulf War, East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan.

“They agreed that one of the most important ideals when they served under the national flag was to preserve the right of free speech. What we strongly object to is your televising it on ANZAC Day.”

The discussion, to be broadcast on 60 Minutes, will be hosted by Mr Martin and will debate the “relevance of the current Australian flag”.

The ANFA have quoted Mr Martin as saying: “Is it an iconic Australian contemporary image or a colonial relic, which should be replaced with something that better reflects Australian society in 2010?”

Mr Sims said the framing of the question implied the current flag did not represent Australia adequately. The letter was fired off yesterday requesting an alternative broadcast date.

Channel Nine did not return calls from Tweed Daily News.

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