Rainbow flag flies at Wagga council in face of opponents

As seen on Twitter: Mayor Greg Conkey stands in front of a rainbow flag, flown outside council chambers.
As seen on Twitter: Mayor Greg Conkey stands in front of a rainbow flag, flown outside council chambers.

A controversial decision to fly the rainbow flag outside council chambers has been met with backlash. 

The multi-coloured flag flew on Friday, following the passing of the same-sex marriage bill, which was signed into law that afternoon. 

But out-spoken councillor Paul Funnell slammed the move as a “rogue decision” that was “a clear breach of the resolution of council”. 

Mayor Greg Conkey said his choice to fly the colours of the LGBTQI community was a way of joining the nationwide celebrations.

In September, councillors were divided over a motion to officially fly the flag in support of same-sex couples during the postal survey.

Several councillors backed the motion, drafted by Wagga mother Kat van der Wijngaart as a way to support the city’s “often marginalised and isolated” residents.

The initial proposal, to fly the rainbow flag, was blocked at a council meeting on September 25.

Ms van der Wijngaart on Friday said the mayor’s latest move showed Wagga was supporting inclusion for the rainbow community. 

In September, Councillor Conkey said he supported motion but feared it would sway residents to “vote a certain way” in the national survey. 

Despite the motion’s defeat, Cr Conkey was on Friday pictured in front of the flag at council chambers. 

Defending the move, he said council had also voted on an amendment. 

The amendment was to support an “inclusive community”, no matter what the survey results revealed. 

“We recognise some voted ‘no’ (in the postal survey) but majority voted ‘yes’,” Cr Conkey said.

“I decided the flag should be flown as recognition of that vote.”

But Cr Funnell said it was a matter of semantics. 

He said the move to fly the flag went against council’s resolve.

Cr Funnell said it disrespected the 46 per cent of Wagga residents, who did not support same-sex marriage.

“This is not equality or inclusiveness,” Cr Funnell said. “This is division.”

A furious Cr Funnell said the mayor had exceeded his authority, acting without consultation. 

“This is not about me not supporting same-sex marriage,” he said. 

“This is about processes being ignored ... We made a clear decision.”