Australia Day Sparks Renewed Calls for Flag Design Update

Australia Day Sparks Renewed Calls for Flag Design Update
Dr John Blaxland's design for the Australia flag
(Dr John Blaxland, Australian National University)

Passionate debate regarding the relevance of the Australian flag has become almost as synonymous with Australia Day as beach parties and barbecues. While most people spend the 26th of January celebrating the diverse Australian culture and unique Australian lifestyle, some ardent nationalists take the opportunity to renew calls for the Australian flag to be “updated.”

The main question is, of course, “does Australia need a new flag?”  But before Australia considers changing their flag design, a design needs to be developed that Australians like more than the current design. A new flag design would need to capture the attention and imagination of the wider Australian public – something neither design has accomplished.  Far from being inspiring and exciting, both new flags are rather dull and boring.  

This year highly respected military historian Dr John Blaxland, of the Australian National University, took the opportunity to reveal his design for a new national flag which he says would ideally be launched on ANZAC Day 2015 – the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing.

Blaxland’s design combines the Southern Cross and a seven-pointed Federation star, both features of the current Australian flag, with a red boomerang that blends into a white and blue band reminiscent of the Union Jack. Inside the federation star are 250 dots, 150 which represent the Aboriginal languages and another 100 dots speaking to migrant groups which have come to Australia since 1788.

“I’m a sixth-generation Australian of British descent, I’m an ex-Serviceman. I get the significance of the current flag. I get the significance of the Union Jack,” said Dr Blaxland in an interview with ABC television’s News Breakfast program. “But, I also get that a lot of people don’t like it. So I think we need to find a compromise, something that is going to be inclusive and appeals to all Australians.”

Also weighing in on the debate was the apolitical, non-profit organisation AusFlag which seeks to secure the popular support of the Australian people for the adoption of a truly Australian flag. The day before Australia Day the Chairman of Ausflag, the Hon Robert Webster, announced the launch a new Australian Sporting Flag to distinguish Australia from other nations.

“With the recent announcement that Fiji will change its flag, soon there will be only 3 nations out of 54 in the Commonwealth, whose flags are still dominated by the Union Jack. All others have their own, unique flags, symbolising their sovereignty, identity, and independence,” said Mr Webster.  

“We must have a flag which we can fly proudly and wave at sporting events. A flag that tells the world we are Australians, not some British Branch Office, still clutching at the skirts of Mother England. A flag which confuses no-one,” Mr Webster added. "Ausflag will promote this flag at international sporting events, wherever our resources permit.”

The simple design of the Ausflag sports flag features the national colours of Australia, green and gold, as well as the Southern Cross on a blue background. “Ausflag is very proud to launch a flag which embraces all the elements of an Australian Sporting Flag: history, simplicity, identity, recognition, and our national colours,” Mr Webster said.