Anthony Albanese says Greens leader Adam Bandt should reflect on his decision to remove an Australian flag from behind him at a press conference.
Mr Bandt had the Australian flag set aside during a media conference this week so only the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags were in camera shot.
He said the Australian flag was a hurtful symbol for First Nations people.
The prime minister, who said he was “very proud” to stand in front of the flag, accused Mr Bandt of missing the point of reconciliation.
“Reconciliation is about bringing people together on the journey that we need to undertake … it is undermined if people look for division rather than look for unity,” he said.
“I just say to Mr Bandt that he needs to think about the responses that have been made and reconsider his position and role to promote unity and work to promote reconciliation.”
Mr Albanese had added the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags to his media backdrop after being elected, with former prime minister Scott Morrison opting to only have the Australian flag visible.
Explaining his decision, Mr Bandt said a nationwide approach was needed to deliver change for First Nations people.
“As we have these discussions about being a republic, as we have discussions about having a treaty with our First Nations people, it’s time to understand the history of this country and the symbols that represent the history of this country are very hurtful to the First Nations people of this country,” he said.
“They’re calling for change and the Greens will march with them to achieve that change.”
Greens senator and DjabWurrung, Gunnai, and Gunditjmara woman Lidia Thorpe said she “absolutely” removed the Australian flag from any appearance she made.
“The Australian flag does not represent me, my people. It represents the colonisation of these lands and it has no permission to be here,” she told Network 10.
“There’s been no consent, there’s been no treaty so that flag does not represent me as it has connotations to invasion and dispossession, and it’s associated with the mass murders of many Aboriginal women, men and children.”
It comes days after NSW premier Dominic Perrottet announced his state would permanently fly the Aboriginal flag on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, at the seemingly extraordinary price of $25 million.
While he conceded the price seemed on the high side, he insisted it was a crucial project for the state.
“This is an important project,” he said.
“I don’t want the cost getting in the way of what is an important decision that we’ve made as a government and that is to fly the Aboriginal flag alongside the NSW flag and the Australian flag on the bridge.”