Minister gives Vietnam vet OK to fly the Australian flag

FLAG WILL FLY: Goodna Vietnam veteran Neville Irwin is delighted Department of Housing Minister Tim Mander has given him the green light to fly the Australian flag
FLAG WILL FLY: Goodna Vietnam veteran Neville Irwin is delighted Department of Housing Minister Tim Mander has given him the green light to fly the Australian flag Rob Williams
PROUD: Neville Irwin receives his Vietnam service appreciation certificate.
PROUD: Neville Irwin receives his Vietnam service appreciation certificate. Rob Williamscontributed

UPDATE, 6AM: Goodna Vietnam veteran Neville Irwin will be able to fly the Australian flag in his front yard after Minister for Housing Tim Mander called him yesterday to give him a personal guarantee.

The QT reported yesterday that Mr Irwin had been told by a senior officer of the Department of Housing and Public Works in Ipswich that the government would not let him fly the flag in the yard of his housing commission home because it would "incite racial tension".

Mr Mander said: "Rather than be mucked around, Mr Irwin should be applauded for wanting to fly the Australian flag.

"Frankly I was appalled to hear what happened, and I've asked for a full explanation," Mr Mander said yesterday.

"I spoke to Mr Irwin this morning and assured him I'd do everything I can to make sure he can proudly fly our flag."

Mr Irwin thanked Mr Mander and said, "It was good to get the call".

"Tim said, 'You'll get your flag pole'. I am very, very happy about it," Mr Irwin said.

Cr Paul Tully, who backed Mr Irwin's right to fly the flag, said he was glad the issue had been resolved.

"I thank the minister for stepping in quickly to overrule the bureaucrats who made this disappointing decision," he said.







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FRIDAY: Goodna Vietnam veteran Neville Irwin is angry that he has been told by a bureaucrat he cannot fly an Australian flag in the yard of his housing commission home.

Mr Irwin, 63, told the QT the reason he was told not to fly the flag in the front yard of his Queen St home was because it would "incite racial tension" in the neighbourhood.

Mr Irwin said he rang a senior officer of the Department of Housing and Public Works in Ipswich with a simple request.

"I said I wanted to put a flag pole in, and his exact words were that the government would not let me do it because it would incite racial tension," he said.

"He also said I needed to get an engineer's report, which (Cr) Paul Tully says I don't need because I only want to go up six metres.

"I am a fiercely proud Australian.

"I fought for the country, I am married to a Filipino and I can't see why I can't fly the Australian flag.

"I worked since I was 16. I went into the army when I was 18 and came out in 1975. Then I did 25 years of interstate truck driving and anywhere between 12 and 18 million kilometres. I worked all my life, right up until I had a truck accident."

The QT contacted the Minister for Housing and Public Works department about the issue and Housing Minister Tim Mander said Mr Irwin was entitled to fly the flag, with some provisos.

"Mr Irwin is perfectly entitled to fly the Australian flag at his social housing property as long as he pays to have the pole installed, makes sure it's safe, and pays to take it down if he moves out," he said.

"I'm advised that Mr Irwin has not lodged an application to install a flagpole as yet, but if he chooses to do so I'm sure we can reach a solution we'll all be happy with."

Mr Irwin served on two tours of Vietnam, and was in Laos and Cambodia in his seven-year stint in the army.




Cr Tully said Mr Irwin was right to be upset and that "we shouldn't have bureaucrats in provincial cities telling local residents they can't fly the Australian flag".

"Neville has been given one of the most outrageous reasons not to fly the Australian flag that I have ever heard," he said.

"I've known Neville for almost 20 years and he's a straight shooter and a decent citizen.

"He is genuine in his expectation of his right as an Australian to fly the Australian flag in his own front yard. We'd be the only country in the world where the government is saying that you can't fly the national flag. Goodna is a place with over 100 nationalities and we all live and work under the Australian flag."

Cr Tully said Mr Irwin had "been wrongly told he needs engineering certification".

"Under the law, a flag pole up to 10m doesn't require any engineering certification or building approval from the council. What he plans to do is 100 % legal."



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