Independent Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie has declared Australia must become a republic and is in desperate need of a new flag during a tense discussion on Q+A.
Ms Lambie joined the ABC show’s panel on Monday night alongside Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh, former NT senator Nova Peris, Labor MP Andrew Leigh, and President of the WA Liberals Caroline di Russo.
Host Stan Grant opened the episode hinting the King’s coronation would be the theme for discussion and questions from the audience immediately took that direction.
But it was a question from audience member Richard Ryan to Nova Peris over her thoughts about the Union Jack being on the Australian flag that evoked a series of passionate responses.
Audience member Richard Ryan called the Union Jack ‘a symbol of terrorism [and] genocide’ to First Nations people. Picture: ABC
He labelled the Union Jack “a symbol of terrorism [and] genocide” to First Nations people.
Ms Peris responded, saying it was a flag’s job to tell a nation’s story – and questioned whether all Australians are included in the story of the current flag.
“For myself as a First Nations person … when you look at flags – flags are about representation. It tells a story,” she said.
“When I look at the Aboriginal flag, which was legislated in 1995, the black is symbolic for us as people, the yellow is the giver of life, and the red is mother Earth.
“When you look at the Australian flag, you’ve got another country’s flag in our flag,” she said. “I understand the history with it being flown when our soldiers went to war and fought for our freedom, but also it’s a hurtful one for our people … It symbolises Terra Nullius, the massacres … the attempt to wipe us out.”
The former NT Labor senator, Olympian and republican Nova Peris, said the Union Jack represents hurt for her people. Picture: ABC
Ms Peris concluded by saying the decision to become a republic and change the flag should ultimately end up in the hands of the Australian public.
Grant then asked Senator Jacqui Lambie whether she’d like to keep the flag given her connection to it through her military service and time in parliament.
Her response appeared to catch the panel by surprise as she fervently shared her thoughts.
“For me the flag would have a lot more meaning if we put it out there so it doesn’t just include First Nations people, doesn’t just include any white people, but also includes any migrants that have come to this country over god knows how many years,” she said.
“The only way to do this, and teach people about our history, is to throw it out there to those kids – 16 years and under – and get them to design the flag, and explain to them why we need to change the flag.
“That way they’ll get an education about the Frontier Wars, they’ll get an education about how great this country has become with migrants and how we’ve all come together.
Senator Jacqui Lambie declared her support for a new flag and said it was time for a republic. Picture: ABC
“There’s only one way to do that and that is creating a brand new flag.”
As for a republic? Ms Lambie said: “We’re all grown-ups here in Australia.
“It’s about time we stand on our own two feet and we don’t need a king or a queen to do that.
“We can actually do it all by ourselves,” she said.
“Bring on a republic, bring on a new flag, bring it on! Go hard!”
The crowd erupted as Grant chuckled at the fired-up Tasmanian senator – who has built a reputation for her heated speeches.
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“It didn’t take Jacqui long tonight did it?” he said.
“I was going to start slow too,” she joked.