Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has come under fire after the Aboriginal flag was hung upside down on the first day of the Jobs and Skills Summit at Parliament House – made worse by the fact that no one in attendance seemed to notice the error either.
The incorrectly-hung Indigenous flag was in the background displayed alongside the Australia and Torres Strait Islander flags as Mr Albanese addressed the 140 government and business leaders and was spotted in various selfies and photos taken on the day.
When correctly flown, the black half of the flag, representing First Nations Australians, is meant to be at the top, with the red half, signifying the earth, at the bottom.
Loved joining this powerhouse of women speakers on the opening panel at the #jobssummit. Equity for women can’t wait @SenKatyG @sammostyn @emmafulu @June_Oscar@leonora_risse
— Michele O'Neil (@MicheleONeilAU) September 1, 2022
It hung upside down until delegates left for the lunch break and was correctly displayed when they returned.
Prominent Indigenous leaders called out the faux pas, including Coalition Senator Jacinta Price and Warren Mundine, a business leader and former Labor Party president.
Senator Price, who has previously criticised Mr Albanese’s flying of the flag as empty symbolism, said it was ironic that the government went out of its way to show symbolic respect for Indigenous Australians, yet still made such an error.
“With all the virtuous expression of respect for Aboriginal Australians… and all the carry on with strategically placing the flag prominently to express this deep virtue you’d think that this Albanese Government could actually hang it the right way up?” she said.
“Especially at such a significant and groundbreaking event such as the job summit.”
Various speakers were photographed in front of the incorrectly-hung Indigenous flag, which was corrected during the event’s lunch break. Images: @AlboMP (Twitter)
Mr Mundine said he was shocked when the saw the flag on TV, describing the mistake as “ignorant” and “pathetic”.
“How ignorant and pathetic is it that our national flag is treated this way… put it up properly!” he said.
The Parliamentary Services Department, which was responsible for the error, later said the flag being upside down was the result of “an unfortunate human error”.
“The incorrect mounting of the Aboriginal flag was due to an unfortunate human error. Once the error was identified, it was immediately corrected,” it said.
While a flag flying upside down can signal that someone is in distress in the US and is sometimes used by protestors at rallies, the act is banned under all circumstances by the Australian flag protocols.
Mr Albanese has been displaying the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags in parliament and at government events since becoming PM following the May election, with Indigenous MPs and leaders praising it as a long-overdue acknowledgement of First Nations culture and Australia’s history before British colonisation.
Images: @AlboMP (Twitter)
This article first appeared on OverSixty.