Our beloved Australian Flag remains under attack by a small minority of republican flag changers. Without a mandate, and notwithstanding their landslide defeat in 1999, the republicans are in the process of removing all symbols of the Australian Crown – an institution they see as a constraint on republican politicians. The republican newspaper The Age says that since everyone knows the Flag will change after some unknown (politicians’) republic is adopted, the Australian Flag should be changed now.
Leading republicans opened a major campaign aginst the flag which culminated in a programme on national television on the eve of ANZAC Day, 2010. In a subsequent official inquiry this campaign was ruled to be misleading.The principal feature of Australia Day 2011 was the endorsement of flag and constitutional change by those chosen as Australians of the Year by the politicians’ Australia Day committees.The republican flag changers deliberately ran dead during the 1999 republican referendum campaign to assist the republican case, although the republican movement had earlier endorsed an exhibition of new flags to coincide with the 1998 Constitutional Convention as well as a touring exhibition.
Most of these proposed new flags were of the beach towel variety with one proposed flag which can only be described as obscenity, and a gross one at that. Republicans argue that three established facts about our Flag are untrue.
First that Australian Flag was adopted after an open public competition with very wide participation and support which was concluded under the authority of the Commonwealth of Australia; Second that there was never any requirement that our Flag include the Union Jack, and Third, that it is the Flag under which Australians have served and died. All are absolutely true. And Australians overwhelmingly love their beloved Australian Flag. Republicans long opposed any requirement for a vote by the people on any change being inserted in the Flag Act or into the Constitution. They were especially annoyed when Parliament did this, and especially by the requirement that in any vote, the existing Flag be included for consideration.(Most federal republican politicians had to go along with this reluctantly when they realised the changes would pass both houses – they did not want to be on the record opposing this, although previously they planned a change to take effect before 2000 without any vote by the people.)
A group of prominent republicans continues to campaign for a new flag. They have been careful to ensure none hold office in the republican movement, no doubt to give the impression the two campaigns are entirley separate. There can be little doubt that were a politicians’ republic to be imposed, the Flag would be next in line.