This morning I listened with interest when the member for Dawson introduced his amendment to Protection of Australian Flags (Desecration of the Flag) Bill 2003.
He was moved, as he described in his speech addressing the bill, to protect the Australian flag from acts of desecration and protest. I have rarely found common cause with the member for Dawson in the often cultural crusades that he introduces into this place. But I have to say that this is an issue where I could find agreement with him. Our flag is not just a piece of coloured textile but also a symbol of who we are and what we believe in.
This is why I would like to point out to the member for Dawson that the most dangerous place for Australia's red ensign, today, is on the back of an Australian ship because his government, led by this Prime Minister, is busily going around the country encouraging Australian shipowners to take down the Australian flag and replace it with the flag of another country.
It is affecting real people, like Zac Kinsett from Shellharbour, who was dragged off the MV Portland in my electorate. It affects Joanne Kerin, a young mother from my electorate, from Kanahooka, who was dragged off the Alexander Spirit and replaced by a worker from a foreign-flag vessel. If the member for Dawson really wanted to show some courage, he could take inspiration from the former National Party leader Doug Anthony who crossed the floor to support a true Labor principle