ALBURY'S councillors voted 5-4 on Monday night to erect poles for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags at the city's war memorial.
The decision came after it was suggested the $30,000 cost would be better spent on counselling, domestic violence and food charities.
Mayor Kevin Mack, deputy mayor Amanda Cohn and David Thurley, John Stuchbery and Murray King supported the poles.
Graham Docksey, who is the president of the Albury RSL, Alice Glachan, Henk van de Ven and Darren Cameron voted against the move.
Those anti the flag poles noted community feedback showing 91 per cent opposition with Cr Henk van de Ven saying ignoring that and voting in favour was a "stick it up yours" to those who replied.
He compared it to the council bending to public pressure and reversing a decision to charge spectators at the city's basketball stadium.
Cr Cohn, who advocated the flags, said it was simplistic to arrive at a decision based purely on responses.
"We've received a large number of negative submissions on this item, but community consultation is not to be taken as a straw poll, it's not a simple percentage for-percentage against as those in the media and on social media would love us to believe," Cr Cohn said.
"There's obviously some strongly held views in the community, but I really don't think any new arguments have been made in this iteration that haven't been made previously."
Cr Cohn said having Indigenous flags at the monument met "contemporary community expectations".
Cr Thurley questioned why Cr Docksey did not declare a conflict of interest in remaining in the chamber given his presidency of the RSL and previous decisions to absent himself on motions.
Cr Mack said that was a decision for an individual councillor before Cr Cameron noted it was a breach of the council's code of conduct to suggest another councillor may have a conflict of interest.
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Cr Docksey said he was speaking on behalf of the 250-plus objectors and noted opposition had grown from 70 to 91 per cent.
He suggested if the motion failed the $30,000 should be evenly divided between Lifeline, a domestic violence network and Foodbank.
Cr King criticised Cr Docksey and Cr Glachan for the timing of the suggestion.
"Here we are at the end of our time grandstanding and showcasing and soapboxing on a very important issue when they've had five years to bring up these matters that are obviously there to either embarrass or try and sway those councillors who vote against this," Cr King said.
"It's extremely poor form on both their parts."
Cr King said the 260 against the poles equated 0.034 of Albury's population and significant amount came from the RSL, a "vested interest group".
Cr Mack said what was planned was not unreasonable and suggested those supporting the flags would be on "the right side of history".
Cr Thurley reflected on Aboriginals, half castes and men with Asiatic blood being rejected for military service in 1916 before half castes were able to enlist in the following year provided a medical officer was "satisfied" one of the parents was of European origin.
"This is an opportunity to simply say on some occasions we can fly those flags," he said.
"They are flags that represent Indigenous people in Australia and for too long Indigenous people in this country have been ignored and left out."
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