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Melbourne University student union pushes Australian flag ban because it’s a ‘despicable symbol of nationalism’

Melbourne University student union

Melbourne University’s student union has attempted to ban the Australian flag from campus with a radical motion that was watered down only when two conservative student representatives spoke up.

Melbourne University Liberal Club President Patrick Irwin told Andrew Bolt on Sky News only he and another executive of his club opposed the original motion, which argued that “Australia is a racist country” and the Australian flag is a “despicable symbol”.

“A meeting of over 40 students … almost none of them turned on their camera, unmuted their microphone and spoke up against this disgraceful motion,” Mr Irwin said.

But after he opposed the motion, centre-left students agreed to “water it down”, he said, and the final motion that was carried still declared that Australia is a racist country, and resolved to “no longer display symbols of Nationalism, which promotes violence, hatred, racism or are co-opted by the far-right, in an Australian context or otherwise”.

Mr Irwin warned that even the milder motion could still be interpreted as a ban on displaying the Australian flag, since the flag ultimate symbol of Australian nationalism, but said his requests for clarification have been ignored.

The original motion argued in favour of banning the national flag because it is based on the British flag, which “represents a nation which continues to “impoverish and brutalise Indigenous people and to sentence refugees to torture in detention centres”.

The Melbourne University Liberal Club last year posted a photo of an office in the student union building showing a painted banner declaring “I hate Australia” and decorated with red hand prints.

Other slogans written around the main one included “you’re on stolen land”, “where is your culture”, “Australia isn’t real” and “I am not Australian”.

Last year the University of Melbourne Student Union published a “racism report” based on a survey conducted by its People of Colour Department.

The report contains more than 100 pages of complaints about racism suffered by the 855 respondents. 42% of those surveyed were international students, and only 27% were White.

Complaints included “the institution is built on White knowledge and western knowledge production”, and “Sometimes the content of class only focuses on Australia”.

Those from White respondents were preceded by a “content warning” and included: “I have had classes where I am completely unable to understand the tutor (maybe comprehending 20–25% of what he is saying) due to their thick accent” and “presumed I was attending a top University, but clearly the English proficiency is incredibly low, both of faculty and students.”

Another read: “I often have classes, particularly maths related, in which I am the only White person in attendance. These subjects tend to be dominated by East Asian students, and have (almost exclusively) East Asian tutors. The students all speak Chinese to each other, and often the tutors speak to them in foreign languages.

“The students (and faculty) often struggle to speak English, which makes group assignments incredibly frustrating. I have no understanding of how these students and staff were admitted.”

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