Advance Australia's Flag


Close your eyes. While your eyes are closed, I want you to think of the image that comes to mind when I say the word “Australia”?

Your brain might jump to a kangaroo. Perhaps you see an iconic landmark like Flinders Street Station, Uluru or the Harbor Bridge. Or maybe, you think of the flag. 

Since almost the beginning of civilisation, societies have been using flags, banners and symbols to represent themselves. The tradition of national flags seems to have begun as far back as 3000 BC in Iran. Ever since then, national flags have been used as uniting and connecting emblems that manufacture strong feelings of nationalism among citizens. (For those Arts students who didn’t fall asleep during the Political Theory lecture, think Benedict Anderson and “imagined communities.”) 

In fact, a recent study conducted across Australia, Britain and the United States found that exposure to national flags can reduce chances of tax evasion. So it’s safe to say, flags play a significant role in the building of a nation. 

But if national flags are meant to help unify us all, then why do as many as 64 per cent of us in Australia want to change the flag?

The Australian National Flag is predominately blue, with the Union Jack in the left-hand corner and the Southern Cross star constellation on the right. The Flags Act 1953 also recognises the Australian Aboriginal Flag and the Torres Strait Islander Flag as official flags of Australia, designed to represent the many Indigenous Peoples of Australia. According to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet the National Flag is the “foremost national symbol” and an “expression of identity.” 

But is it really?

There have been countless calls to change the flag – from when it was first flown in 1901 to Paul Keating in the 90s, and even now with momentum growing for the Change the Date campaign. Most calls for change centre around the Union Jack and its direct link to the cruelty of colonialism and the fact it neglects Australia’s independence from Britain. Djab Wurrung Gunnai Gunditjmara leader Senator Lidia Thorpe maintains that the Union Jack has “no permission” to be on the National Flag as it “does not represent me or my people.”

So, what would a new and inclusive Australian National Flag look like?

Firstly, we need to get rid of the Union Jack. And to those of you who think that we need to keep it in there because “it’s a significant part of our history” or that “we’re still a republic,” only five of the 56 countries in the Commonwealth have the Union Jack on their flag. Does Australia need to be one of them? 

For a replacement symbol, one of the most notable suggestions is the “Golden Wattle”. Jeremy Matthews’ design features seven wattle blossoms that connect to create an inner star, symbolic of the Federation star which currently graces the flag. 

John Joseph’s 2006 design features a red circle on the right side of the flag. Dot painting around the circle symbolises the crucial presence of Indigenous people throughout Australia past and present.

Now let’s talk about the colours. When I watch the Olympics, I’m always intrigued as to why our athletes don green and gold uniforms when neither of those colours appear on the National Flag. So, if we’re redesigning the flag, I think incorporating our two national colours only seems logical. 

By choosing to harness colours which embody our picturesque beaches, manufacturing industry and the lands on which we stand on, we are creating a flag that more strongly represents us as Australians rather than the red, white, and blue colours of the British military. 

Though, if that all seems too hard, maybe we just paste the lyrics to Men At Work’s ‘Land Down Under’ on a plain white flag and call it a day. 

Whatever the design is, if the purpose of flag is to unite, then I think for a country of beauty, rich and rare, it’s time to advance Australia’s flag. 

You may be interested in...
There are no current news articles.