An Australian Military Cross officer has torn into Adam Bandt after his highly publicised press conference stunt this week.
A decorated Military Cross officer has demanded a public apology from Greens leader Adam Bandt after he refused to stand in front of the Australian flag at a press conference this week.
Mr Bandt had the flag removed from the podium at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Office ahead of a media conference on Monday.
He said he had done so because it “represents lingering pain” for some Australians, and voiced his view that Australia should become a republic and develop a new flag.
The move sparked a wave of backlash, including from Indigenous leader Warren Mundine who called it “idiotic”.
Michael von Berg, National President of The Royal Australian Regiment who also served in the Vietnam War, penned a strong letter addressed to the Greens leader.
Speaking to Sky NewsMr von Berg said he was “very angry” the flag he watched men die under first-hand was being treated with disrespect.
“I actually watched it live and personally, I thought, it was a mistake,” Mr von Berg said.
“When they showed just the Aboriginal flag and Torres Strait flag, I thought, ‘That’s odd.’ Then I saw it off to one side and of course when he came and spoke, I thought this was a deliberate stunt. I was surprised and very angry.”
He said Mr Bandt’s act was insulting to every serviceman and woman who served under the flag.
“The Australian Defence Force and those in active service have sadly lost good friends and soldiers under that flag (and) we find it offensive someone who hasn’t worn a uniform or served the country or done the hard yards, dishonouring our members and the flag in such a way,” he said.
“I think a general apology is warranted because it’s not just the veteran community or serving members he has offended. What he doesn’t realised when we sign on is you sign off a lot of basic human rights. The symbol that binds us as troops, or as a battalion or squadron is the national flag.”
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Mr Bandt should “reconsider his position” regarding the Australian flag.
When asked about it on Wednesday, Mr Albanese said the move would do more to divide than to unite.
“I’m always very proud to stand in front of the Australian flag and I think anyone who is a member of the Australian parliament should do so as well,” Mr Albanese said.
“I was quite surprised about the comments that were made. Reconciliation is about bringing people together on the journey that we need to undertake.
“It is undermined if people look for division rather than for unity.
“I just say to Mr Bandt that he needs to think about the responses that have been made, and reconsider his position and work to promote unity and reconciliation.”
Mr Albanese’s comments came after Liberal MP Phillip Thompson called Mr Bandt a “national disgrace” and the stunt “virtue signalling”.
“My wife is a proud Aboriginal woman who is disgusted by the leader of the Greens’ media stunt and his rhetoric of division,” Mr Thompson said.
“I take the importance of the Australian national flag very seriously. I fought in Afghanistan underneath it. My brothers who were killed in action have had our flag draped over their coffin.
“Our national flag has significance to many Australians. Adam Bandt is a national disgrace.”