Anthony Albanese calls on Adam Bandt to ‘reconsider his position’ after Greens leader refused to stand in front of Australian flag

The Prime Minister said he was “surprised” by the comments made by Adam Bandt who declared the Australian flag is a symbol that is “hurtful” to Indigenous people and added the “country has a lot of work to do on racism”.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has suggested Adam Bandt is undermining reconciliation and dividing the country amid backlash towards the Greens leader who has refused to stand in front of the Australian flag.

A journalist witnessed a staffer of Mr Bandt’s move the Australian flag to the side of the room – leaving the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ones behind the lecture – ahead of a press conference at Sydney’s Commonwealth Parliamentary Offices on Monday.

The Greens leader said the Australian flag was taken out of camera shot due to the “lingering pain” it represented for Indigenous people and argued Australia had “a lot of work to do” on racism.

Mr Albanese was quizzed by a reporter on his thoughts about Mr Bandt’s stance during a visit to Hobart on Wednesday morning where he spoke about social housing.

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Mr Albanese declared he was “always very proud” to stand in front of the Australian flag and insisted any sitting member of the Australian Parliament should feel the same way.

He said he was left “surprised” by the remarks from the Greens leader.

“Reconciliation is about bringing people together on the journey that we need to undertake. It’s undermined if people look for division rather than look for unity,” the Prime Minister told reporters.

“Marion Scrymgour (Labor MP for Lingiari) and a range of other people who I respect… have made strong comments and I respect them.

“And I just say to Mr Bandt that he needs to think about the responses that have been made and reconsider his position and work to promote unity and work to promote reconciliation.”

ABC journalist Isobel Roe said prior to Mr Bandt’s arrival at the Monday press conference, a Greens staffer moved the Australian flag out of camera shot.

Ms Roe said she asked Mr Bandt why he refused to stand in front of the flag.

“He says the country has work to do on racism, and that the symbol is hurtful to many Indigenous Australians,” she wrote on Twitter.

“He also says he usually has it removed before he speaks.”

Liberal National Party MP Phillip Thompson – who is a veteran – labeled Mr Bandt a “national disgrace” over the flag removal, during an interview with Sky News Australia’s Peta Credlin on Tuesday night.

“Adam Bandt is a national disgrace. What we saw him do is an attempt to try and divide our nation,” Mr Thompson said.

“We must always recognize and acknowledge the past but the way we move forward as a nation is to walk together.”

Mr Thompson reflected on his time in Afghanistan serving under the flag, adding he takes Mr Bandt’s move as a “personal insult”.

“On the defense side, I fought under the Australian flag, I was wounded in Afghanistan under the flag. My mates, who have been killed in action, their coffins have been draped in the Australian flag,” he said.

“I take it as a personal insult, I take it as a personal swipe at every Australian soldier and every veteran.”

Indigenous leader Warren Mundine rejected Mr Bandt’s claims, saying it was inappropriate for a member of parliament to reject the Australian flag.

“It’s idiotic. Are the Greens actually in the Australian Federal Parliament? Seriously? Do they actually hate Australians that much,” he told The Daily The Telegraph.

Aboriginals call themselves Australians all the time.

“The Greens are just a fringe university type group trying to run down the country.”

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