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Encyclopedia > Australian flag debate
The current Australian flag
The current Australian flag

The Australian flag debate is a low-key but persistent debate over whether the Australian flag should be changed in order to remove the Union Flag from the canton, often in connection with the issue of republicanism in Australia. This debate has come to a head at a number of occasions, such as the period immediately preceding the Australian Bicentenary in 1988, and also during the Prime Ministership of Paul Keating, who had publicly supported a change in the flag. Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ... Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ... National flag and state ensign. ... National flag and state ensign. ... “Union Jack” redirects here. ... Judicial High Court Lower Courts Constitution State and territory governments Executive Governors and Administrators Premiers and Chief Ministers Legislative Parliaments and Assemblies State electoral systems ACT - NSW - NT - Qld. ... The Skyneedle at Expo88, as part of the celebrations for the 1988 Bicentenary Australian Bicentenary usually describes two events: The Bicentenary of Captain James Cooks arrival and discovery of the east coast of Australia in 1770. ... Year 1988 (MCMLXXXVIII) was a leap year starting on Friday (link displays 1988 Gregorian calendar). ... The current (25th) Prime Minister of Australia, John Howard (sitting, fifth from left), with his Cabinet, 1999 The office of Prime Minister is in practice the most powerful political office in the Commonwealth of Australia. ... For other persons named Paul Keating, see Paul Keating (disambiguation). ...

Contents

Progress of the debate

On 24 March 1998, the Flags Amendment Bill became law after all-party support in the Australian parliament. It amended the Flags Act of 1953 to ensure that the Australian national flag can only be changed with the agreement of the Australian electorate. In theory, parliament could still change the flag by repealing or even ignoring this amendment but this is viewed as politically risky because of the expectation of a public vote created by the amendment. is the 83rd day of the year (84th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1998 (MCMXCVIII) was a common year starting on Thursday (link will display full 1998 Gregorian calendar). ...


Notable Australian republicans have spoken in favour of retaining the existing design, including Hazel Hawke, who, in the lead-up to the 1999 referendum asserted that "the flag will not change" in the event of the country becoming a republic. [1] In 1994, former chairman of the Australian Republican Movement, Malcolm Turnbull, left Ausflag and in 2004 joined the Australian National Flag Association. [2] Hazel Hawke (née Hazel Masterson, born in Perth, Australia in 1929) is an Australian who has worked in social policy areas; however she is best known for her marriage to former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke. ... The Australian Republican Movement was founded in July 1991. ... Malcolm Bligh Turnbull (born 24 October 1954), Australian politician, is the Federal Minister for Environment and Water Resources. ... Ausflag is an apolitical Australian not for profit organization that exists to promote debate on Australias national symbols, in particular the flag of Australia. ... The Australian National Flag Association is a lobby group founded on 10 May 1983 in response to suggestions that the current Australian flag is not appropriately representative of the nation, and should be changed. ...


According to a 2004 poll about removing the Union Jack from the Australian flag, 32% of respondents were in favour, 57% were against, and 11% were uncommitted. [3]


Changing the flag

The Eureka Flag: not considered a serious alternative flag, due to its prevalent use by both the far left and far right and its links with the state of Victoria.
The Eureka Flag: not considered a serious alternative flag, due to its prevalent use by both the far left and far right and its links with the state of Victoria.

The case for changing the flag has been led by the organisation known as Ausflag. The organisation has not consistently supported one design, and is opposed to the Eureka Flag, but has sponsored a number of design competitions to develop alternative flag candidates. Image File history File links Eureka_Flag. ... Image File history File links Eureka_Flag. ... The Eureka Flag The Eureka Flag is an Australian flag which has no official status, but which is used by a wide range of groups. ... Image File history File links Civil_Ensign_of_Australia. ... Image File history File links Civil_Ensign_of_Australia. ... Flag ratio: 1:2 The Australian Red Ensign resulted from the Commonwealth Government Federal Design Competition, which required an official flag and a merchant or shipping version of the same design. ... Ausflag is an apolitical Australian not for profit organization that exists to promote debate on Australias national symbols, in particular the flag of Australia. ... The Eureka Flag The Eureka Flag is an Australian flag which has no official status, but which is used by a wide range of groups. ...


Supporters of changing the current flag argue that it:

  • Does not accurately connote Australia's status as an independent nation. The Union flag at the canton suggests Australia is a British colony or dependency. New Zealand, Fiji and Tuvalu are the only other independent nations in the world to feature the Union Flag on their national flags. Other Commonwealth countries whose flags originally depicted the Union Flag, such as Canada, have since changed them, without becoming republics. The flag's colours of red, white and blue are neither Australia's official national colours (green and gold) nor its traditional heraldic colours (blue and gold).
  • Is anachronistic because it exclusively represents Australia's British heritage and does not reflect the change to a multicultural, pluralist society. The symbolism excludes indigenous Australians and is said to be a reminder, for many indigenous Australians, of colonial oppression and dispossession.[5]
  • Is historically not the prime national symbol. Since Federation, it has typically been flown alongside the British Union Flag. The number of points of the stars have varied since 1901, and the current blue version was not officially adopted as the National Flag until 1954. Before then, confusion reigned between whether the red or blue version was to be preferred, with the red often winning out.
  • Is spurious to claim that Australians have "fought and died under the flag", given that during most of the wars Australians have been involved in, they have usually "fought under" various British flags or the Australian Red Ensign, as well as the current Blue Ensign design. In any case, flags are not literally carried into battle in modern warfare. It remains unclear how changing a flag's design in any way affects the actions or status of Australia's war veterans.
  • Although the flag was designed by Australians, it still had to be approved by the British Admiralty and King Edward VII.

RFA Brambleleaf flying the square Blue Jack based on the Blue Ensign The Blue Ensign is a flag, one of several British ensigns, used by certain organisations or territories associated with the United Kingdom. ... The Flag of New Zealand is a defaced blue ensign with the Union Flag in the canton, and four red stars with white borders to the right. ... Flag Ratio: 1:2 The current state flag of Victoria in Australia is a British Blue Ensign defaced by the state badge of Victoria in the fly. ... The Australian Monarchist League was founded in 1943 to support the role of the Crown in the Australias constitutional system. ... The 1999 Australian referendum was a two question referendum held on 6 November 1999. ... The Commonwealth of Nations as of 2006 Headquarters Marlborough House, London, UK Official languages English Membership 53 sovereign states Leaders  -  Queen Elizabeth II  -  Secretary-General Don McKinnon (since 1 April 2000) Establishment  -  Balfour Declaration 18 November 1926   -  Statute of Westminster 11 December 1931   -  London Declaration 28 April 1949  Area  -  Total... National colours are frequently part of a countrys set of national symbols. ... For a list of words with definitions, see the Heraldic tincture category of words in Wiktionary, the free dictionary In heraldry, tinctures are the colours used to blazon a coat of arms. ... An anachronism (from Greek ana, back, and chronos, time) is an artifact that belongs to another time, a person who seems to be displaced in time (i. ... Multiculturalism or cultural pluralism is a policy, ideal, or reality that emphasizes the unique characteristics of different cultures in the world, especially as they relate to one another in immigrant receiving nations. ... Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Pluralism (political philosophy) This article is about pluralism in politics. ... A map displaying todays federations. ... Year 1901 (MCMI) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link will display calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Monday [1] of the 13-day-slower Julian calendar). ... Flag ratio: 1:2 The Australian Red Ensign resulted from the Commonwealth Government Federal Design Competition, which required an official flag and a merchant or shipping version of the same design. ... Flag of the Lord High Admiral The Admiralty was formerly the authority in the United Kingdom responsible for the command of the Royal Navy. ... Edward VII (Albert Edward; 9 November 1841 – 6 May 1910) was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, of the British Dominions beyond the Seas, and Emperor of India from 22 January 1901 until his death on 6 May 1910. ... This is a list of Commonwealth Members by name. ...

The Southern Cross

Most supporters of a new flag wanted to keep the Southern Cross in any future design, with the Southern Cross featuring in almost all suggested replacement flags submitted to Ausflag.[6] Southern Cross is the English name of Crux Australis, a constellation visible in the Southern Hemisphere. ...


Supporters and detractors of the current flag agree that the Southern Cross represents Australia's position in the Southern Hemisphere (see Southern Cross Flag). The Southern Cross was also known to ancient Aborigines and features in a number of their traditional legends.[7] Southern Cross Flags are flags which depict the Southern Cross. ...


Union Jack versus Aboriginal flag

Flag of Australia with the Aboriginal flag in the canton
Flag of Australia with the Aboriginal flag in the canton

One suggested design was to replace the Union Flag, in the canton (upper hoist quarter), with the Aboriginal flag. Although this was put forward as a simple evolutionary design to imply the removal of British ties and inclusion of Aboriginal ties, it did not achieve widespread support. However, it did appear in the science fiction movie Event Horizon, where actor Sam Neill represents an Australian crew member and can be seen wearing the flag on the sleeve of his suit. Image File history File links Flag_of_Australia_with_Aboriginal_flag_replacing_Union_flag. ... Image File history File links Flag_of_Australia_with_Aboriginal_flag_replacing_Union_flag. ... The Australian Aboriginal flag Flag ratio: 2:3 The Australian Aboriginal flag is a flag that was initially used by Indigenous Australians in their struggle for land rights in Australia, but whose use has now expanded as a symbol of the Aboriginal people. ... “Union Jack” redirects here. ... The Australian Aboriginal flag Flag ratio: 2:3 The Australian Aboriginal flag is a flag that was initially used by Indigenous Australians in their struggle for land rights in Australia, but whose use has now expanded as a symbol of the Aboriginal people. ... This article is about biological evolution. ... Event Horizon is a 1997 science fiction horror film that was directed by Paul W. S. Anderson and written by Philip Eisner (with an uncredited rewrite by Andrew Kevin Walker). ... Sam Neill (born Nigel John Dermot Neill), DCNZM, OBE (born 14 September 1947) is a New Zealand-Australian film and television actor, and owner of the Two Paddocks winery in Central Otago. ...


Arguments against this design included that:

  • In flag design, a symbol in the canton of a flag implies subordination to the group represented by the symbol.
  • Harold Thomas, the designer and copyright holder of the Aboriginal flag, objects to this use, saying, "Our flag is not a secondary thing. It stands on its own, not to be placed as an adjunct to any other thing. It shouldn't be treated that way." [8]
  • Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders are considered equally indigenous to Australia, with each represented by their own flag; the inclusion of the Aboriginal flag but omission of the Torres Strait Islanders' flag would be exclusive and unfair.

Flag of the Fédération internationale des associations vexillologiques. ... Harold Joseph Thomas was an Indigenous Australian descended from the Luritja clan of Central Australia artist and land righs activist, he is best know for designing the Australian Aboriginal Flag. ...

Keeping the flag

Yokohama, Japan. 1945. Released POWs show their handmade Australian flag.
Yokohama, Japan. 1945. Released POWs show their handmade Australian flag.

In response to the increasing publicity surrounding proposed new flag designs, supporters of the current Australian flag formed the Australian National Flag Association to resist any attempts at changing the flag. Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Geneva Convention definition A prisoner of war (POW) is a soldier, sailor, airman, or marine who is imprisoned by an enemy power during or immediately after an armed conflict. ... The Australian National Flag Association is a lobby group founded on 10 May 1983 in response to suggestions that the current Australian flag is not appropriately representative of the nation, and should be changed. ...


Supporters of the current flag argue that it:

  • Uniquely and distinctively represents Australia and its status as an independent Commonwealth Realm. The Union Flag stands for Australia's historical origins, its membership of the Commonwealth of Nations, as well as the Westminster system of parliamentary democracy. The Commonwealth Star symbolises the six original states and Australia's territories.
  • Does not imply that Australia is subordinate to Britain. Fiji is now a republic, yet it retains the Union Flag on its national flag. The flag of Hawaii has retained the Union Flag in the canton even though Hawaii is now a state within the United States of America and was officially a British protectorate for only one day.
  • Is a popular symbol, widely and enthusiastically used by Australians of all races and creeds. No alternative national flag has attained the same degree of affection accorded to the current flag. Sporting flag designs, such as the Boxing Kangaroo, have failed to supplant it.
  • Adequately represents indigenous Australians, being an ethnic minority within the Australian state.
  • Is not seen by all Australian Aborigines as a symbol of oppression. Neville Bonner, former Liberal Senator and the first indigenous Australian elected to federal parliament, said that the Australian flag "has served as a beacon of freedom for the refugees of a weary world." [9]
  • Is of historical importance, having been the flag that Australia has grown up under and the flag that has been internationally associated with all Australia's many achievements. [10] It contains elements of earlier flags, such as that of the Anti-Transportation League; it is also similar to the Blue Ensign designs of all the states' flags. Efforts to change it are essentially revisionist and divisive.
  • Shows by implication that Britain was firstly the most influential country on Australia and that the two countries still share strong political, social and cultural traditions.
  • Has been used by the Royal Australian Navy since its inception in 1911 [11] and by other branches of the Australian Defence Force one way or another since Federation. Abandoning the current flag would insult the memory of the nation's 102,000 war dead.
  • Was designed by Australians and chosen through a public competition.

The Commonwealth of Nations as of 2006 Headquarters Marlborough House, London, UK Official languages English Membership 53 sovereign states Leaders  -  Queen Elizabeth II  -  Secretary-General Don McKinnon (since 1 April 2000) Establishment  -  Balfour Declaration 18 November 1926   -  Statute of Westminster 11 December 1931   -  London Declaration 28 April 1949  Area  -  Total... The Houses of Parliament, also known as the Palace of Westminster, in London. ... Commonwealth Star as the crest of Coat of Arms of Australia. ... Look up republic in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Ka Hae Hawaii, or the Flag of Hawaii Ka Hae Hawaii, or the Flag of Hawaii, is the official standard symbolizing Hawaii as a kingdom (under a short British annexation), protectorate, republic, territory and state. ... This article is about the U.S. State. ... The boxing kangaroo was the symbol for the successful 1983 Australian challenge for the Americas Cup. ... Neville Bonner (28 March 1922 - 5 February 1999), Australian politician, was the first Indigenous Australian to be elected to the Parliament of Australia. ... The Liberal Party of Australia is an Australian political party. ... Australian Senate chamber Entrance to the Senate The Senate is the upper of the two houses of the Parliament of Australia. ... The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) is the naval branch of the Australian Defence Force. ... The Australian Defence Force (ADF) is the military organisation responsible for the defence of Australia. ...

References

  1. ^ Republic referendum a political campaign with few precedents
  2. ^ Malcolm Turnbull joins the Australian National Flag Association
  3. ^ Newspoll. Thinking now about the design of the Australian flag. Are you personally in favour or against changing the Australian flag so as to remove the Union Jack emblem?, 2004-01-25
  4. ^ AML pamphlet during 1999 republic referendum, with the NZ flag incorrectly used instead of the Australian flag
  5. ^ Speech by Lois O'Donoghue, 1998.
  6. ^ 1998 Ausflag Professional Flag Design Competition.
  7. ^ The story of Mululu and his four daughters
  8. ^ Debra Jopson. "Aboriginal flag has many roles, says designer", Sydney Morning Herald, Fairfax, 1994-09-03. 
  9. ^ Terry Smyth. "Flagpoles Apart", The Sun Herald, Fairfax, 1997-08-17, pp. 60. 
  10. ^ The West Australian, Burn Candles as nation's flag flies free, 3 September 2003
  11. ^ George Odgers, "The Royal Australian Navy - An Illustrated History", p. 41

External links

See also


 
 

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