Last modified: 2008-09-27 by jonathan dixon
Keywords: australia | proposal | southern cross | aboriginal | oceania | kangaroo |
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This is promoted by Ausflag, a nonprofit body seeking to engender public support for a new Australian flag. Recent opinion polls show only 35% support for a new flag, but the numbers are growing, and more ominously, there is 45% support for a change in the 25-39 age group.
Ausflag ran a design competition for a new Australian flag in conjunction with The Australian newspaper in late 1993, with the winning design (above) announced on 17 December 1993. The competition had a total prize pool of A$25,000, with A$15,000 going to the winner, Mark Tucker, a graphic designer from Sydney.
The red arc at the bottom represents Uluru (formerly known as Ayers Rock, a huge monolith in the centre of Australia), and the blue above represents our clear, wide skies. Retention of the Southern Cross was seen as crucial, as it has been incorporated into many symbols of Australia and the fact that it is extremely popular with the public.
Using red, white and blue provides continuity with our existing flag and is still symbolic of our British history without the need to replicate the British flag in its entirety as part of the design.
The copyright of this design is vested in Ausflag.
Ausflag is a voluntary, apolitical, non-profit organisation seeking to promote high-quality debate about Australia's national symbols. It was established in 1981 by Harold Scruby and other interested Australians with the objective of securing the popular support of the Australian people for the adoption of a truly Australian flag:
"A flag which clearly and unequivocally proclaims our identity to other nations, a flag which is internationally recognisable and not confusing to other nations, and a flag which unites the Australian nation in all its diversity."
Ausflag is not and has never been anti-British. It is, simply, pro-Australian.
Since its inception, Ausflag has regularly promoted alternative designs for a new Australian flag, held public flag design competitions with significant reward, and otherwise promoted debate about Australia's national flag through the media and public forums.
The Ausflag site contains an unparalleled wealth of detailed, accurate, and referenced information about Australian flags. The site is divided into four main sections:
Quoted from a press-release from Ausflag posted to the FOTW mailing list by Brendan Jones, 9 October 1995
image by Vincent Morley
New Zealand television last night carried an item worth mentioning here. The Australian group Ausflag recently unveiled a new design for an Australian national flag. It is divided vertically into stripes of red-blue-red, with thin white fimbriation between the stripes (the approximate ratio would be 3:4:3, if the news coverage shown was anything to go by). On the blue stripe are the five stars of the Southern Cross from the current Australian flag, in white.
The flag has raised controversy on both sides of the Tasman Sea. In Australia, there are complaints that the flag does not recognise the Aboriginal peoples, and still leans far too much towards the "red, white and blue". It has been claimed by some people to be too much like the Canadian flag, and by others to be too much like the French flag.
In New Zealand, the controversy comes from another source: the design is almost identical to one that has been championed for thirty years by a New Zealand designer [Clark Titman] for a new New Zealand flag. The New Zealander (whose name escapes me, and I'll have to look it up, sorry!) appeared on New Zealand Television in 1967 with his design, which is identical with the exception of the colour and shape of the Southern Cross (which in the New Zealand flag is four five-pointed red stars outlined in white). Ausflag have put the similarity down to coincidence.
James Dignan, 29 January 1997
James describes the flag perfectly, but I think the blue stripes in the hoist and fly are of proportions 1 to 2. I too have only seen it from TV footage.
Paul B. Lindsay, 29 January 1997
On the eve of Australia Day, Ausflag has announced the winners of its long running Professional Design Competition.
Extracts from the media release:
Members of the Design Institute of Australia, the Australian Graphic Design Association, the Royal Australian Institute of Architects, Australian Writers and Art Directors, the Australian Textile Design Association, the Flag Society of Australia and the Society of Interior Designers of Australia were invited by Ausflag to enter [the competition]. Over 2,500 entries were received
All the designs are on display on our web-site: www.ausflag.com.au2nd and 3rd place getters:
Details about the Competition may be found on: www.ausflag.com.au/ausflag/comp.html
image by António Martins
The previous flag violates heraldic guidelines about not having expanses of colour next to colour (e.g. large amount of red immediately abutting blue). It's only a guideline, and flags such as Haiti violate it, but generally such clashes don't look good.
Secondly, the designer of the Aboriginal flag, Harold Thomas, does not believe the Aboriginal flag should ever be used in such a way. It is a symbol in its own right, and should not be used as an adjunct or part of something else.
However, the sentiment is something I agree with, but I think design-wise it is only a first step. I think it would be better to use the Aboriginal colours in a new design, rather than a representation of the Aboriginal flag itself. See my idea of a new Australian flag for 2001. I have made this design up in cloth, 1 by 2 metres in size, and waved it at the recent Australia v England cricket test match in Sydney. I am now shamelessly seeking to promote it!
Ausflag's summary of past opinion polls is at: http://www.ausflag.com.au/debate/pollhist.html
I may be wrong here, but I think the most recent poll on the subject (not mentioned at Ausflag) reversed the trend argued by Ausflag - it showed a small majority wanted to retain the present flag.
David Cohen, 10 April 1999
Apart from the Ausflag sections on changing the NSW flag (which are a couple of years old now) I haven't heard anything about states changing, certainly not here in Queensland (although we'd probably be the last state to consider such an idea, Queensland's a tad conservative in some qurters). If the national flag changed and/or we became a republic then the idea might get more consideration. Strange really, as you'd think there'd be less opposition to changing states' flags. There's not nearly the same emotional attachment as there is to the national flag a lot of people wouldn't recognise state flags they're so nondescript.
Dylan Crawfoot, 18 April 1999
The Ausflag site shows two proposals for a new New South Wales flag which actually been flown in Sydney.
Jorge Candeias, 12 March 2003
images resized from the Ausflag site by Carlos Thompson, 12 March 2003