Holistic local sustainability; food, water, energy, money, people
Is our current flag really due for change? The arguments for and against are laid out well by the Flag Society of Australia, so I’d needn’t repeat them here. I find them somewhat polarized.
Nations are evolving phenomenon. The key word there is ‘evolving’. The evolutionary approach to national change is characteristic of our British political heritage. We’ve learnt that the disruptions of revolutions don’t outweight the gains. The Australian flag has undergone multiple changes over the past 200+ years. It was only in the early 1950s that the current Commonwealth Blue Ensign was adopted as the national flag, although it was the winning design in a popular competition in 1901. Even that original flag’s stars have been modified to what we have today.
A flag must be representative of its people and please most of them. Australia has changed in the last 100 years. The White Australia policy is gone and Aborigines recognized as equals. Australia has become multicultural, although is still predominantly Anglo-Celtic, or European. It is an enduring fact that the nation was a project initiated and built primarily by the British people, hence retention of the Union Jack in the canton position in the proposed flag pictured above. A new national anthem was adopted in the 1970s. We had a referendum in 1999 on becoming a republic, that failed. We’ve had numerous debates about a new flag and competitions, but support for the current flag is still strong.
One of the criticisms about the current flag is that it doesn’t represent indigenous people adequately. The Southern Cross is said to reflect their presence because it was up there in the sky when they arrived. However, that is true for numerous nations and people in the southern hemisphere and it appears in identical form on at least 4 other national flags (New Zealand, Brazil, Papua New Guinea and Samoa). The stylized southern cross shown here comes from the NSW Ensign, or Australian Colonial Flag (see Australian Federation Flag), which was flown for most of the 19th Century. It is also distinctly part of Australia’s rebellious – and Irish – history from the Eureka Stockade in Ballarat. Using this home-grown sentiment in our national flag (the ‘Commonwealth Blue Ensign’) associates the constellation with Australia, although it might be argued that it is not as it would have appeared to Aborigines. Nonetheless it embodies the republican connotations of the Cromwellian word ‘Commonwealth’, chosen by Australia’s founders for that reason, it is thought. The Commonwealth star is here shown in yellow, matching the colour of the sun in Harold Thomas’s Aboriginal flag. Adding an extra color might be considered inadvisable because good flags are not supposed to have more than 3 colours. It might also be argued that yellow is the colour of a sun, not a star. However, a star is a sun seen from afar and this mirrors the vast distance in time since Aborigines arrived in Australia and our distance from other other lands. These compromizez [sic] or accommodations are typical of evolutionary political change with British characteristics.
Note the above image is imperfect because the Union Jack is larger than 1/4 of the flag and the Eureka cross is slightly stretched width-wise.