A WIRADJURI man has told Albury councillors they need to judge if they hold "values of the present or the past" in installing Indigenous flags at the city's war memorial.
Bobby Whybrow dared all nine and to-and-froed with councillor and Albury RSL president Graham Docksey in a forum before Monday night's council meeting.
"You all may well be inundated with emails from all the Karens and Kens in the community opposing the decision, but you need to ask yourself 'are you aligned with the values of the present or the past?'," Mr Whybrow said.
"Which side of history do you want to be part of?"
Mr Whybrow was speaking before a debate on a motion to overturn support for funding two poles at Monument Hill for flying the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags.
Cr Docksey declared a conflict for that item, but was in the chamber to hear Mr Whybrow's address which he made remotely because he did not feel the council building was a "culturally safe space for me".
The RSL boss asked Mr Whybrow if he had read a plaque for Indigenous fighters at the memorial.
Mr Whybrow said he had but added he did not think it was "good enough".
"We too many times are given the crumbs and the scraps and are told to deal with it and be grateful for what you're given and I just see that as very tokenistic - it's a great start, it's the start of a conversation," he said.
Cr Docksey said "cowards" had left anonymous messages calling him a "racist or a bigot" on his RSL phone.
Mr Whybrow replied he had never called Cr Docksey racist.
Cr Docksey then asked what Mr Whybrow's reaction would be if the council decided to fly the Chinese, British or Irish flags.
Mr Whybrow drew the councillor back to his speech where he noted the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander banners became official national flags in 1995 and it seemed as though Albury Council and the city's RSL were "behind the times".
Following Mr Whybrow's speech, Albury man Rod Halsted whose father and uncle served in World War II, addressed the councillors.
He said he had surveyed 50 people and they all responded that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags should not fly at the monument.
"One of the people I spoke with, a local business owner, pointed out that more Australians derived from Greek heritage than any other nationality," Mr Halsted said.
"Should we fly the Greek flag or, as my friend suggested the Italian flag, as that is her background?
"This idea to fly any flag, other than the Australian national flag, ultimately is divisive and most certainly goes against the wishes of the vast majority of Albury residents."
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Mr Halsted noted Aboriginal service personnel had fought with honour in world wars but had been "rewarded with deplorable treatment when they returned home".
Councillor Darren Cameron questioned Mr Halsted over his claim that Australian troops fought under the national flag in the world wars.
He said the British Union Jack or occasionally the red ensign, rather than the current blue ensign, was flag that represented Australian combatants.
When the recission motion was eventually debated, it was lost 5-3 with mayor Kevin Mack, deputy mayor Amanda Cohn and councillors Murray King, John Stuchbery and David Thurley in the majority and Cr Cameron, Alice Glachan and Henk van de Ven in the minority.
Its mover, Cr Cameron said it was about correcting an anomaly and ensuring proper consultation with the RSL over the flag poles.
He said he supported having Indigenous flags on the hilltop and believed in the "very near future" they would be flown there.
Meanwhile, the councillors on Monday night also endorsed a draft plan to upgrade the memorial bowl on the side of Monument Hill.
However, that debate also involved flags, with Cr Glachan suggesting that poles could be erected at the site, with Indigenous colours flown near the First Nations garden.
"We could have consideration for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags in the Aboriginal part and then on the other side we could have another couple of flags," Cr Glachan said.
As for the flags on Monument Hill, the community will now have the opportunity to voice their opinion on funding to install poles as part of the council's budget deliberations from May.
Cr David Thurley encouraged those passionate about the matter to put in a submission then.
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