The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (15:26:00): Mr President, I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question to you about flying the rainbow flag above state Parliament House.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: As you are well aware, many buildings, particularly government buildings, across the world and in Australia, fly the rainbow flag as a symbol of acceptance of sexuality and gender identity diversity. I am very pleased to see that, for the Feast Festival, which is coming up in November this year, at least 17 councils are flying the rainbow flag across our state and I commend that show of support for diversity in those communities. Also, many businesses have been encouraged, particularly in the CBD area.
I note that in the last week of sitting, a petition was presented to the other place which urged the government to restrict councils or other organisations from displaying a rainbow flag or any other design of a rainbow as a symbol of homosexuality and that that would be an offence with a fine imposed. I note that even the White House lit up in rainbow colours recently. Certainly, no-one in America I have seen has suggested that people should be restricted in all businesses and have a fine imposed on them for flying a rainbow flag or displaying a rainbow symbol.
As you are aware, the Greens have been strong supporters of flying the rainbow flag and would dearly love to see this happen for the Feast Festival or other days of significance, but also for flags to be used to recognise many of the other features of the absolutely wonderful tapestry of the communities of South Australia. I note that in the past we have had the Eureka flag flown in December in recent years.
I also draw to all members' attention that there are at least three unused flagpoles on the roof of this building that have no flags flown on them at all, 365 days of the year. I ask you, as President, to give some guidance on how we could move to having a mature, informed debate of this parliament about flying not just the rainbow flag but also other flags, particularly with a view to ensuring that perhaps next year we might see the rainbow flag flown during the Feast Festival, IDAHOT and other appropriate days, should this parliament be able to come to a consensus.
The PRESIDENT (15:28:37): Thank you for your question. You wrote to me regarding that issue. I took it upon myself to discuss the issue with the Speaker because the flying of the flag is really a responsibility between the Speaker and the President. I took it upon myself also to actually get the views of various people within the parliament and within this caucus—
The Hon. S.G. Wade: Not this caucus!
The PRESIDENT: — within this chamber, and I took the view that there was not strong enough support to allow that flag to be flown. Bear in mind that if you want to pursue that — and, I must say, it was not unexpected that you did — even though it is under the joint decision-making process of the President and the Speaker, you should write to the JPSC. We can then have the whips go back to their caucuses and gauge the views from there.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (15:29:39): A supplementary. I raised the issue of the three unused flagpoles and also exploring this for other flags, so could that also be incorporated into further discussions?
The PRESIDENT (15:29:51): Yes, I will have discussions with the clerks to find out exactly why they are there and what they are used for. The Hon. Mr Parnell brought up that issue to me, and there are some flagpoles on the back of the Parliament. So, yes, I will get back to you with an answer on that as well.