Study finds car-flag flyers more racist
People who fly Australian flags on their cars have more racist attitudes than those without flags, a West Australian study has found.
Researchers at the University of Western Australia surveyed 513 people at last year's Australia Day fireworks display on Perth's Swan River foreshore and found that one in five people had attached flags to their cars to celebrate.
Sociologist and anthropologist Professor Farida Fozdar said 43 per cent of those with car flags believed the White Australia Policy had saved Australia from many problems experienced by other countries, while only 25 per cent without flags agreed.
She said a total of 56 per cent of people with car flags feared their culture and values were in danger, compared with 34 per cent of non-flaggers.
The study also revealed 35 per cent of flaggers felt people had to be born in Australia to be truly Australian, compared with 22 per cent for non-flaggers.
Professor Fozdar said the research also revealed clear differences in how people with car flags felt towards minority groups, including Aboriginal people and Muslims.
She said 91 per cent of people with car flags believed people who moved to Australia should adopt Australian values, compared with 76 per cent of non-flaggers.
Professor Fozdar said there was no clear link between education, gender, ethnicity, citizenship, voting pattern or income and flag flying, although her survey showed a slightly higher likelihood of younger rather than older people adopting the practice.
"What I found interesting is that many people didn't really have much to say about why they chose to fly car flags or not," Professor Fozdar said.
"Many felt strongly patriotic about it - and for some, this was quite a racist or exclusionary type of patriotism - but it wasn't a particularly conscious thing for many."
West Australian senior minister Troy Buswell said flying the flag was a matter of personal choice and people should be free to do so.
"I fly an Australian flag, or a state flag, at my house. I don't use it wrongly," Mr Buswell said.
He said it appeared more and more people were flying the flag on Australia Day.
"People should applaud the fact that you can run the flag up the flag pole or hang it out the window of your car and be proud to be Australian," he said.
"What better time to celebrate being a proud Australian living in the best country in the world than on Australia Day."
New WA Opposition Leader Mark McGowan said he had no difficulty with people having a sense of national pride and he wasn't going to criticise those who displayed Australian flags on their cars.