AFTER: North Rockhampton High School students, siblings Amber Jun Xie and lu Ting Xie, were disappointed to discover the Taiwanese flags they had painted on a bull statue were painted over by the Rockhampton Regional Council.
AFTER: North Rockhampton High School students, siblings Amber Jun Xie and lu Ting Xie, were disappointed to discover the Taiwanese flags they had painted on a bull statue were painted over by the Rockhampton Regional Council.

Taiwanese association responds to Rocky flag issue

AN AUSTRALIAN Taiwanese association has demanded Rockhampton Regional Council apologise for covering students' artwork.

In a Letter to the Editor submitted this morning Kevin Dong, on behalf of the Australian Association for Taiwan Public Affairs, said the decision to paint over artwork depicting the Taiwan flag appeared "discriminatory in nature”.

The statue in question was one of six decorated by local school students on the theme of what Rockhampton meant to them.

Taiwan-born siblings, Amber Jun Xie and lu Ting Xie, added their country's flag on a bull as part of a North Rockhampton High School class initiative to "paint their culture” for the statue.

The statues were displayed on the riverbank during Beef Australia 2018.

READ: Why we painted over students' Taiwan flag: Council explain

Rockhampton Regional Council has been at the centre of controversy after covering a fish artwork depicting the Taiwan flag on a student artwork created for Beef Australia 2018. Someone has now written 'Taiwan' over the painted artwork which is still on display on the riverbank.
Rockhampton Regional Council has been at the centre of controversy after covering a fish artwork depicting the Taiwan flag on a student artwork created for Beef Australia 2018. Someone has now written 'Taiwan' over the painted artwork which is still on display on the riverbank. Michelle Gately

Rockhampton Regional mayor Margaret Strelow has explained the council's decision, which has since attracted international attention.

"From the moment a Year 11 student painted the Taiwanese flag and the Chinese characters for 'Tai Wan' on a bull sculpture that was to be installed in a public place, our response was inevitably going to be a matter for international comment,” Cr Strelow said.

"We were in a highly charged political minefield.

"There was no easy or 'right' response for us. Council's actions reflect Australian foreign policy. Negotiating international policy is not our normal role.”

READ: Mayor Margaret Strelow responds to flag controversy

However, Mr Dong said the association was disappointed to read the response which he claims was inaccurate.

"There are no federal directives governing local councils' position on Taiwan that support the Council's explanation,” he wrote.

"This particular industry event is not a diplomatic function, therefore there are no laws governing what flags can or cannot be displayed on a piece of artwork.

"Further, it is worrying that the Mayor felt that it was necessary to follow a diplomat from an authoritarian country that has no jurisdiction over Australian affairs and our way of life.”

Cr Strelow declined to comment on the letter.

Read the letter below.

Dear Editor,

We are extremely disappointed to read Mayor Margaret Strelow's response over the recent controversy around student artwork for the Beef Australia 2018 industry event.

The Council's unilateral decision to paint over student's artwork appears to be discriminatory in nature, as the Council targeted two students' work based on their nationality.

The mayor's justification of the council's actions is also inaccurate. There are no federal directives governing local councils' position on Taiwan that support the Council's explanation. This particular industry event is not a diplomatic function, therefore there are no laws governing what flags can or cannot be displayed on a piece of artwork. Further, it is worrying that the Mayor felt that it was necessary to follow a diplomat from an authoritarian country that has no jurisdiction over Australian affairs and our way of life.

The mayor and the Rockhampton Regional Council should recognise their failure in upholding Australian values. We demand that the council apologise to the targeted students as well as to the Taiwanese-Australian community.

Sincerely yours,

Kevin Dong (on behalf of)

Australian Association for Taiwan Public Affairs



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