Council flag policy

Flags are emotive symbols.
They are flown in times of triumph and in times of great sorrow.
They can evoke a sense of togetherness under a common cause and conversely they can evoke feelings of exclusion.
In today’s letters to the editor Rob Carter of Gumeracha asks a pertinent question about the Adelaide Hills Council’s newly adopted Flags Policy – “how does the council determine which social issues are important and which are not?”.
According to the policy, the chief executive or his delegate makes that determination.
He does so according to the principles that flag flying can foster a sense of community pride and bring attention to causes or events.
He has to show respect and sensitivity to community expectations and he cannot fly flags that might engage in matters of contention.
With respect, those guidelines are so subjective they can make the flying of flags a tough call for staff members – who are not elected by the community.
I doubt you’d find anyone in the district who would object to the council’s decision to fly the French flag two weeks ago to show solidarity for the victims of the terrorism attacks in Paris.
However, as Mr Carter said in his letter, why did the council decide to exclude White Ribbon Day and the issue of domestic violence from its flag flying social issue regime?
Maybe the cause doesn’t have an official flag yet but one day it might and then someone in an office is going to have to decide whether to include or exclude it from the hundreds of other issues and events drawn to the attention of the public every year.
This Flag Policy should be reconsidered.
Either an annual schedule of flags should be approved by elected members every year or, for the sake of expediency, the Mayor should decide what flags are flown.
Mr Carter might question the resources spent fielding objections to the flying of the rainbow flag for the gay and lesbian Feast Festival but that flag was specifically mentioned in the Flag Policy and approved by councillors who were voted in by the community.
There is a role for councils to play in engaging with social issues but it should be elected members leading the way.