Moreland  flag idea fails to fly

A PUSH to celebrate cultural diversity by flying other nations' flags within the Moreland City Council has been stymied.

Last month the council staged a small celebration to mark Western Sahara's national day, but did not fly the flag outside Coburg Town Hall.

The gesture was a compromise, after a motion put forward by Moreland councillor Lita Gillies to fly the Western Saharan flag raised objections.

At the council's February meeting Moreland chief executive Peter Brown said the council had a practice of only flying the Australian and Aboriginal flags.

He said allowing the Western Saharan flag to fly could create a precedent to fly other nations' flags - which had caused community angst in the past.

The council only had two flags poles outside the Coburg Town Hall and council would either have to install a third pole or potentially not fly the Australian or indigenous flag, he said.

Councillor John Kavanagh said although intended to unite the community, raising one nation's flag could actually be divisive.

Cr Gillies said it was time to investigate a change in the council's flag policy - and that if council flew every nation's flag it could not be accused of making a political statement.

South ward councillor Meghan Hopper said she supported the idea of flying other nations' flags, but she was "uncomfortable with the idea of removing the indigenous flag on any day".

"If you raise every country's flag on its national day it's not a political statement, it's a statement of diversity," she said.

"You can't be picking and choosing which country you are commemorating."

Cr Samantha Ratnam said she thought last week's function to celebrate the Western Saharan community was a good compromise.

She said a review of the council's flag policy was worth considering but the council should also explore how else it can honour a nation.

"The question really is how do we support the diverse cultural groups in the community?" Cr Ratnam said.

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