6th October 2019

The recent community angst towards the Police at Box Hill having a flag-raising event to honour the 70 anniversary of Communism in China was insensitive and ill-advised, but the defence that it has been happening for years was not insensitive but embarrassing.

Police would laugh at a driver claiming that exceeding the speed limit for years was justification on the day the driver got caught. That the communist flag had been raised for several years does not make the recent event acceptable but the contrary. That nobody complained before is irrelevant, but what is relevant that this is a repetitive action making it worse than an isolated incident.

Incredibly with all the publicity of China’s actions in Hong Kong and a well-publicised history which is an antithesis of our democratic values, that the Box Hill Police were blind to the implications is worrying.

With even with the most basic of knowledge of the Chinese culture we understand the role of symbolism and the vital role it plays in their day to day lives as well as the political views of Australian people of Chinese heritage. Xi Jinping for example, never walks forward to greet a visiting head of state, instead has the head of state walk up to him and he is generally on an elevated position.  This symbolises the power of Jinping having world leaders approaching him in a subordinate manner, symbolism at work.

Interestingly we note today that the Box Hill Police Station no longer displays the Australian Flag which gives the impression of petulance by VicPol or Box Hill Police, but there may be a legitimate explanation.

Most commentators have overlooked the significance of this event.

It is true that there is substantial community angst as result of this ill-considered event, but the major impact will not be felt here but in China where their propagandists can point to Australia honouring China and the propaganda message will highlight not only that the Police are on China’s side,  but Australian Politicians (read Government) are also celebrating.

This is the 70th Anniversary of Communist rule in China, a celebration of their a Political class. Raising Labour of Liberal Party flags on Police Stations when they celebrate Milestones would be the same and would not be permitted, but the Communist Party Flag is.

Before we know it, Australia is portrayed as supporting  Communist China against whomever their propaganda machine chooses.

There has been growing criticism that Victoria Police are too close to the Government and the raising of the Chinese flags will be interpreted by many through the prism of the relationship between Police and the State Government, honed by their own experiences.

It is very easy to see how this simple gesture could easily be used within the community in a negative fashion by individuals promoting their agenda.

If we do not stop the exploitation of police flagpoles, the next thing that will happen is the Police Colours will be paraded at every other parade or march in Victoria. Imagine the Police colours being paraded in a CFMEU Industrial march, the Pride march, or the Grand Final parade. The sanctity of the consecrated colours would be trashed.

The solution, however, is simple. All Police buildings should fly the Police Flag if there is only one pole, and the Australia Flag to the left of the Police flag if there are two.

No other flags should appear on Police Buildings and certainly not any flag representing any special interest group or other nation – a simple gesture that demonstrates the independence of Policing in this State.

Moreover, that includes the Richmond Premiership flag.

This fiasco highlights some other flag issues that must be addressed.

There is a National protocol on how the Australian flag is to be treated and VicPol would be best advised to read the protocol and comply. The community would expect its Police Force to respect the flag appropriately.