The Minister for Indigenous Australians says more people should be focused on changing the lives of Indigenous people rather than the "symbolism" of Indigenous flags.
Appearing on NITV’s breakfast show, Big Mob Breaky, Ken Wyatt said that more Australians needed to be concerned with the urgent issues facing First Nations people rather than empty symbolism.
"I'd rather see the flags flying out here where the public see them because in the chamber people don't notice the flags,” Mr Wyatt said.
“Outside the Parliament, I want Australians to see them flying. On the poles we currently have the Torres Strait Islander, Aboriginal and the Australian flag."
The minister said that the Senate should represent their states rather than national symbols and urged more focus on the more critical issues facing Indigenous people.
‘What we should be debating is not whether a flag is hanging in a chamber, but the issue of a young child like Annaliesse who took her life in Western Australia because she had an abuser," he said, in reference to the tragic case of an 11-year-old girl who died in WA last month.
The minister said more focus needs to be placed on improving Indigenous peoples’ daily lives.
“We should be talking about equality of water, we should be talking about everyday things we have to improve for our people,” he said.
“The lefties can have as much to say about my stance on many issues, but get real and look at the quality of life that our people need to live.”
On Tuesday, federal government Senators voted down a motion to display the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags in the Senate chamber.
Labor senators Malarndirri McCarthy and Patrick Dodson and Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe put forward the motion to fly both the Aboriginal and the Torres Strait Islander flags during NAIDOC Week.
The motion was voted down 29-28.
Liberal senator Anne Ruston told the Senate chamber the Australian flag was the only appropriate national flag to display in the upper house.
“There are many places and circumstances to appropriately display the flags of our nation - including the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags ” she said.
“The government believes that the Australian national flag which represents all Australians is the only appropriate flag to be flown in the Senate chamber.”