A patriot act . . . Dallas Burrage raises the flag outside his Sawtell home.
A patriot act . . . Dallas Burrage raises the flag outside his Sawtell home.

Dallas flags Aussie pride

By BELINDA SCOTT

THURSDAY will be Australia Day and this year the arrival of the national day is shadowed by cross-cultural violence and arguments for and against more emphasis on symbols of national unity.

Dallas Burrage raises the Australian flag outside his Sawtell house every morning.

Why does he do it?

"I dunno ? just patriotism ? if that's the word."

"Being a veteran plays a big part in it. I went away and 'played for the team'.

As a member of the Third Cavalry Regiment in the Vietnam War, a fireman and a former policeman, who has lectured in schools, Dallas Burrage has a unique perspective on Bronwyn Bishop's plan to introduce a Private Members' Bill next month making it a criminal offence to destroy or violate the Australian flag.

"I was called up for national service and was still in the police force and in 1968 and '69 I had to go to (anti-Vietnam War) demonstrations," he said.

"They were burning American and Australian flags, mainly American, and I used to get little old ladies and students saying 'it's all right for you, you don't have to go'."

But he did.

Mr Burrage said he 'definitely' supports the proposed Bill.

As well as being patriotic, the editor of the Cavalry Association's database and newsletter, said his flagpole now served as a handy reference point for visitors.

The man with a lifetime history of public service is also in favour of NSW Premier Morris Iemma's plan to require all schools to sing the national anthem at regular assemblies and teach primary school students Australian values.

The Premier said students would be taught about respect and responsibility as a part of a bid to curb anti-social behaviour like that demonstrated by the Cronulla riots.

Yesterday he went further and announced a standardised set of compulsory school rules would be stage two of the plan.

The President of the NSW Teachers' Federation, Maree O'Halloran, said the State Government plan was 'window dressing', not new, and public schools already played the anthem and taught Australian values.

She said the plan would not address social divisions in the community and the problem needed to be looked at more deeply.

NSW Opposition leader Peter Debnam said the Premier was using his respect and responsibility plan as a distraction from his government's problems.

But Parents and Citizens Association spokespeople have been more positive.

The President of the NSW Federation of Parents and Citizens, Sharryn Brownlee, yesterday welcomed plans to make the national anthem compulsory.

The vice-president of the Mid North Coast Sub-Regional Council of P&Cs, Sue Larsen, was also in favour of a higher profile for the national anthem. She said she was 'horrified' when even the members of national sporting teams obviously did not know the words.

While she said the teaching of values, respect and responsibility was already occurring in public schools, she was happy for Mr Iemma to 'formalise' this by creating 'Australian values' units but she said she hoped this would be accompanied by more funding, not simply added to existing overtaxed school budgets.

But as to whether this would help prevent violent incidents like Cronulla in future, Mrs Larsen was in two minds.

"It probably won't prevent those sort of incidents, but I'm not sure. It depends on how it's done -and who knows how it's going to be done?"



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