Queensland Senator Paul Scarr has criticised left-wing Greens MP Elizabeth Watson-Brown’s decision not to display the Australian flag in her office and implored her to engage with local Vietnamese migrants who fled communism to make a new life in Australia.
The Liberal Party senator’s address to Parliament brought attention to the Public Exhibition on Crimes of Communism in the western suburb of Darra in Brisbane where a large Vietnamese community resides.
The exhibit, organised by the Vietnamese Community in Australia and the World Victims of Communism Association of Australia, highlighted the consequences of communism including mass deportations from Estonia to Soviet gulags (labour camps), the killing fields of Cambodia, the millions killed during the Chinese Communist Party’s Great Leap Forward, and the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.
A Hong Kong democracy activist was also present to describe the situation on the ground in the former British settlement, now taken over by Beijing.
Shining a Light on Truth of Communist Society
Scarr said communism was an “absolute anathema” to individual freedoms and the family unit—the building block of society. He also said Australia had become home to hundreds of thousands of people fleeing communist regimes in places like Poland, Hungary, Vietnam, and Cambodia.
The senator also said the exhibition shone a “bright light on the horrors of communism.”
He recounted a conversation with a local Vietnamese community member who said he had to exhume the remains of a family member (with support from the U.S. government) under the cover of darkness from the gravesite of a former re-education camp because the current Vietnamese government did not want “photos of the exhumation to be taken.”
“We should always remember the horrors of communism, the evil of communism and the 100 million people who have died at the hands of communism. We should always remember that so many people found refuge from communism in our beautiful country,” he told Parliament on Sept. 6.
“I say to the people of my home state of Queensland: take your children to see this exhibition and show them the horrors of communism. Not only that, but take your children to see this exhibition so they can talk to the survivors of communism about what they experienced.”
Division Over Displaying the Australian Flag
Scarr then said it was “appalling” that recently elected Greens MP, Elizabeth Watson-Brown, refuses to display the Australian flag in her local electorate office in the seat of Ryan in Brisbane’s west.
“How appalling it is that the Greens member for Ryan … refuses to display the Australian flag … when the Vietnamese community across the river in Darra is displaying proudly, with honour, at their community centre an Australian flag that has flown in this Senate chamber,” he said, noting that it was given to the community by himself and Labor Speaker Milton Dick.
“They display that flag because they, our Vietnamese community, appreciate the values of this country and what it represents to all those people who’ve fled from persecution and the evils of communism and other extreme authoritarian regimes all over the world.”
The Epoch Times contacted Watson-Brown’s office and confirmed the national flag was not on display, while the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islands flags were.
A staff member said the decision was prompted by community feedback saying the national flag represented “colonisation” and that going forward if Australia was to become a republic, they hoped a new flag could be adopted that was more inclusive.
Watson-Brown won the seat of Ryan at the May federal election, which saw several inner-city voters switch to “Green” or “Teal” candidates promising stronger action on climate change and integrity in politics.
The MP’s flag decision follows in the stead of Greens leader Adam Bandt, who, prior to a press conference, had the national flag moved to one side—attracting criticism from members of the Indigenous community.
Meanwhile, Scarr’s speech comes after Independent MP Dai Le delivered her maiden speech in Parliament, where she recounted her journey as a young girl fleeing communist Vietnam to start a new life in Australia.
At the recent election, Le managed to defeat high-profile candidate Kristina Kenneally in the Labor Party stronghold of Fowler, comprised of the working-class suburbs of western Sydney.
Dressed in a traditional áo dài emblazoned with the Australian flag, the new Independent said the country represented a “horizon of endless possibilities” to her family.
“Australia, you welcomed my mother and my family with open arms. You gave us comfort, food and a warm bed to sleep in. I will never forget the love shown to us.”