I have nothing new to add to the flag silliness of this week – just a re-hash of some old stuff.
The Australian flag has outlived its utility to the nation. Our blue ensign flag, with the Union Jack occupying the canton, continues to designate Australia as a dominion of the British Empire. Of the more than 50 nations in the Commonwealth only Australia, New Zealand and Fiji have yet to change their flag to properly symbolise their independence. The Australian flag also fails to sufficiently identify Australia. Who can forget when the Canadians flew the New Zealand flag for Prime Minister Bob Hawkeâ€™s visit in 1985? Some argue that the current Australian flag is sacred, our soldiers having fought and died under it during wartime. Yet in the Boer War and both world wars, Australians fought mostly under either the Union Jack or the Australian red ensign flag; the Australian blue ensign only became the official national flag with the passing of the Flags Act of 1954. We strongly believe that Australia should adopt the Eureka flag as our new national flag. Described by the Age in the 1850s as the â€˜Australian Flag of Independenceâ€™, the Eureka flag is uniquely Australian, aesthetically beautiful and rich in symbolism. It conveys the spirit of the Ballarat Reform League and the Eureka uprisingâ€”republicanism, democracy, egalitarianism and mateship. Adopting the Eureka flag as the national flag would powerfully connect Australians with our past and with our national values. It would also enhance our sense of being part of a larger ongoing Australian project, with a rich and exciting past. Reclaiming the Eureka flagâ€”standing as it also does as a symbol of fairness and toleranceâ€”would, if handled carefully, have great resonance among Australiaâ€™s Indigenous and immigrant communities. Australia should reclaim the Eureka flag and fly it high on Capitol Hill.
From Duncan, Leigh, Madden & Tynan, Imagining Australia: Ideas for Our Future (2004). For more on why we think the Eureka legend and flag can and should be reclaimed from the fringe-dwellers, see this oped.
(Photo courtesy of Peter Fyfe.)