Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull is entitled to change his mind. Formerly a director of Ausflag, the movement to change our flag, he now fully supports the retention of the Australian National Flag. He has also well and truly put a politicians’ republic on the back burner – not in this reign, not unless there is a consensus on the model – not unless the opposition is minimal.
“But NOT that everyone's quite ready to fall in love with Mal just yet,” writes James Jeffrey in The Australian’s popular Strewth column (4/8).
“At least not Ausflag executive director Harold Scruby, who's keen to give the Opposition Leader a good birching for his ‘obsequious’ suggestion the Australian flag was chosen by the people,” he continues.
…flag changer attack..
“Pointing out that the flag was chosen by British colonial authorities and approved by Edward VII, Scruby accuses Turnbull of having done ‘another Gretch’".
“But Scruby is only getting warmed up: ‘Since losing the republican referendum, for which he blamed everyone else, including the prime minister, instead of his own flawed model, Mr Turnbull has done a volte-face and become a veritable closet Pom. (Ow!) He now believes that Australia, an independent sovereign nation, should wait for the Queen to die before we can become a republic. And he's had a momentous and epiphanic love affair with the Australian flag, falling head over heels for the Union Jack.’”
“Scruby thunders on in style, but we're sadly out of space.”
Actually the Australian Flag was not chosen by the ‘ British Colonial authorities’ as Mr. Scruby claims . It was certainly approved by The King –acting on advice.
…the facts about our Flag..
As the excellent site of the Australian National Flag Association (ANFA) points out, early in 1901 and soon after Federation, Australia’s First Prime Minister, Edmund Barton announced the details of the Commonwealth Government’s unique competition for the design of a "federal" Australian flag (Commonwealth of Australia Gazette No 27).
The Review of Reviews for Australasia, a Melbourne journal, had already initiated an Australian flag competition in 1900, and it was agreed that the entries received for this would be accepted in the Government’s competition. In all 32,823 entries were subsequently received. Now Sir Edmund Barton could hardly be described as a “British Colonial authority”, as Mr. Scruby alleges. His government had the confidence of the House of Representatives elected by the Australian people. In fact he insisted that the process be Australian. He said “The award of the Board (of Judges) will be final and the prize given in accordance with their decision, even if the design be not accepted by the Imperial authorities (in Great Britain)." Then on 3 September 1901(now Australian National Flag Day) Prime Minister Barton announced the winning design of the government’s flag competition at a public ceremony in Melbourne.
Five entrants who had submitted similar designs were to share the honour of being declared the designers of Australia’s own flag. They were: Ivor Evans, a fourteen-year-old schoolboy from Melbourne; Leslie John Hawkins, a teenager apprenticed to a Sydney optician; Egbert John Nuttall, a Melbourne architect; Annie Dorrington, an artist from Perth; and William Stevens, a ship’s officer from Auckland, New Zealand.
The Commonwealth Government and the Review of Reviews for Australasia provided ₤75 each and the Havelock Tobacco Company added ₤50 to this making a total of ₤200 prize money, a considerable amount at the time. The five winners received ₤40 each.
….the Flag is raised and formally approved..
Australia’s new flag of "Stars and Crosses" was raised for the first time at approximately 2.30 pm. Featuring the Southern Cross, Union Jack and Commonwealth Star on a dark blue field the large flag about 11 metres long, fluttered magnificently from the mast on the main dome of the Royal Exhibition Buildings, Melbourne – the site of the first Federal Parliament.
It was on 20 February 1903 that The King – Emperor, Edward VII, approved the design for the official Australian flag and the Australian Red Ensign for Australia’s merchant ships and private pleasure craft (Commonwealth Government Gazette No 6).
To say the Flag was chosen by the British Colonial authorities is as untrue as saying Australians did not fight under the Flag. The flag changers only damage their cause by relying on myth rather than sound argument.
The flag changers are not motivated by some new flag which is more beautiful, better at telling our story, and which would unite us even more. The flag changers are sadly motivated by a visceral hatred of the Australian National Flag.
As former Prime Minister Paul Keating put it, the Australian National flag “…gets up my nose.” That of course is Mr. Keating’s problem and not the nation’s.
In any event the wonderful thing is that the Australian National Flag enjoys the overwhelming support of the Australian people.