Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Australian Flag

The Australian flag resulted from a competition run by the newly formed Commonwealth government after Federation in 1901.
That competition attracted 32,823 entries, five of which almost identical designs shared first prize.
The design incorporates the Union Jack (acknowledging the history of British settlement) with the large Commonwealth Star underneath (it has seven points representing the unity of the six states and the territories) together with the five stars of the Southern Cross. This constellation can be seen only from the southern hemisphere and is a reminder of Australia’s geography.

For few decades now there have been rumblings to change the flag, namely to get rid of the Union Jack which to many is an unnecessary symbol of our colonial past.
Of course this has met with major opposition from the traditionalists who maintain our past is an essential element to be recognized. Also the Queen of the United Kingdom being Queen of Australia ie. our ceremonial head of state, is another important reason to maintain the current flag.
A referendum in 1999 to break our final tie with the UK ie.remove the Queen's sovereignty, and become a republic was defeated 55:45.
But recent shenanigans by our conservative government headed by an English born monarchist Prime Minister in reintroducing knighthoods (after their abolition 30 years ago) for pre-eminent Australians and then awarding one of two to a foreigner ie. the Duke of Edinburgh  (the Queen's husband) on Australia Day upset more than a few people and once again fanned the almost dead embers of the republic/flag debates.
Fiji  recently decided to do away with the Union Jack in their flag and the New Zealand government will be putting a new flag referendum to its people in 2015 and, depending on that result, again in 2016 (theirs is almost identical to ours).
Current New Zealand Flag
If the latter gets up and the decision is to do away with the Union Jack this would leave only us and the tiny Pacific island nation of Tuvalu with this colonial relic on their national flags.
Most of the other 50 plus Commonwealth of Nations (formerly British Commonwealth) countries eg. Canada, made the move years ago and the world didn't stop turning.
My feeling?
I think it is time to make a change.
To what?
I would be more than happy with the Eureka flag but that symbol has been hijacked so many times for what people consider unworthy causes it would never be accepted.
Eureka Flag

As a compromise I would be happy just to simply have the stars of the current flag on the blue background.
Others think replacing the Union Jack with the Aboriginal flag has some legs.
There have been a few competitions run to design a new flag over the years.
While many have had some merit others have been truly dreadful. A few reflect our sense of humour. 
The truth is, however, that I don't think this or the republican question will ever be settled in my lifetime.
UPDATE 24/03/16: New Zealand voted 56.6% to 43.2% to retain their current flag.

No comments: