Ballarat MP calls for law to protect use of Eureka flag

Ballarat MP Catherine King will call for changes to the Commonwealth Electoral Act following a ruling that allows a far-right political party to use the Eureka flag as its logo.

The Australia First Party received approval to use the flag as its emblem from the Australian Electoral Commission this week.

Ms King said the outcome “made it clear” there needed to be changes to the law and how it was applied. 

The Australia First Party received approval to use the Eureka flag for its logo by the Australian Electoral Commission this week.

The Australia First Party received approval to use the Eureka flag for its logo by the Australian Electoral Commission this week.

She will give notice next week to introduce a private member’s bill to protect the Eureka flag.

“The Eureka flag is a symbol of our city and region,” she said.

“It is a symbol of the fight for justice on the gold fields and, by extension, has long represented the campaigns of working people in Australia.

“To see it placed on the logo of a right wing party such as Australia First is a complete contradiction of what the great flag represents.”

Australia First received approval to use the Eureka flag for its logo by the Australian Electoral Commission this week.

Ms King’s call to protect the Eureka flag follows a campaign by Ballarat City Council to have the flag recognised as a national flag, a classification that could protect it against uses deemed inappropriate, current councilor and north ward candidate Vicki Coltman said.

Mrs Coltman said the campaign would be a matter to be picked up by the new council and could take several years.

She said the loan of the original flag to museums outside Ballarat once its lease to M. A. D. E. expires in 2018 could be part of a lobbying strategy moving forward.

“Having the flag connected to Ballarat and connected to a group so anti-multiculturalism is not good, so I think we need to take the steps to protect the flag and then we can address how it's being used,” she said.

The council has previously explored its legal options in protecting the flag, including seeking trademark or copyright. 

Victorian Trades Hall Council, Federation University and Liberal Democratic Party Senator David Leyonhjelm were among 11 submissions to the Australian Electoral Commission opposing Australia First’s use of the flag.

Senator Leyonhjelm raised concerns the far-right party’s use of the image would lead to confusion between the two parties, as the Liberal Democrats had used the flag on their former website and letterheads.  

In the 2016 federal election  Australia First received just 3005 votes for its only two senate candidates, both in Western Australia, amounting to just 0.22 of the overall vote.

Australia First did not respond to request for comment.

The logo was entered in the Register of Political Parties on Thursday.