Just before ANZAC Day last year 2010 leading republicans Ray Martin and Peter FitzSimons launched a well planned media assault on the Australian National Flag.
This began with a meeting at the Leichardt Town Hall in Sydney.
Extracts were included in a segment of a Sixty Minutes programme broadcast nationally across the Nine Network.
To add to the provocation, the broadcast was on the evening of ANZAC Day, 2010.
The nation was outraged. The network was no doubt delighted by the ratings.
(You can read about the programme in the five principal reports on this site listed below in Schedule 1 below. There are in fact 15 reports in which we have referred to Ray Martin’s campaign – they are listed below in Schedule 2 below. Extracts from the official ruling follow. )
The programme repeated some of the republican myths about our Australian National Flag. Now, two of those concerning the origin of our Flag have been exposed as completely untrue.
This was an attempt to denigrate the origins of our Flag and that there was an unwritten rule requiring entrants to include the Union Jack in any flag submitted.
ACMA, the Federal government’s broadcasting regulator ruled on15 February 2011 that the programme was misleading. (Investigation Report No. 2450. File No.ACMA2010/1515 Queensland Television Ltd)
ACM says the broadcaster failed to present factual material accurately.
This means that the republican case for flag change is based on myth.
…Ray Martin’s claim…
Ray Martin made this claim during the programme:
The fact is that neither the Parliament, nor the people, chose the flag that we have today.
Believe it or not, it began in 1901 as a sales promotion for a Melbourne magazine that was sponsored by a tobacco company.
The unwritten rule for that competition was that the winner had to have two ingredients – the Union Jack and the stars of the Southern Cross – just like the Victorian State flag.
In an erudite statement to ACMA , Mr. Allan Pigeon, President of the Queensland Branch of the Australian National Flag Association declared:
The intention seems to be to belittle the concept of the flag design competition and to imply that our national flag has no official standing other than as a sales promotion for a magazine.
This distorts history (by failing to note that the Commonwealth set up the official flag competition which resulted in our national flag) and dishonours the “world’s first” flag design competition.
Never before had a national flag been chosen in an open public competition and about 1% of the Australian population at the time took the opportunity to help design our flag.
The ‘Review of Reviews’ magazine competition entries were submitted for consideration as part of the official Commonwealth Government flag design competition announced in the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette on 29 April 1901.
…two separate competitions…
Ray Martin is confusing two separate competitions. The ‘Evening Herald’ ran an unofficial competition in 1900, which did require that entries included a Union Jack and Southern Cross. (As noted above the winning design did not become our flag.)However in October 1900 the ‘Review of Reviews’, considering that the ‘Evening Herald’ competition had been too restrictive, announced a national competition which was to be judged by the premiers of the six ‘federating colonies’ (i.e. the states).
The announcement noted that the earlier competition had been “purely local…and fettered by the conditions that the Federal Flag must include both the Union Jack and the Southern Cross…it seems unwise to fetter the competition with any such absolute limitations…”.
Even though a flag which omitted these symbols might have (had?) small chance of success, it is explicitly clear that there is no such restriction as that claimed by Ray Martin in the competition that led to our national flag.
…official Commonwealth competition…
As noted earlier, the ‘Review of Reviews’ did not proceed with judging its entries, as it was ultimately agreed that these would be considered as part of the official Commonwealth flag design competition announced in the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette on 29 April 1901.
A reading of this gazette […] confirms that the Commonwealth also did not put any restrictions on entries.In fact during the ‘Flag Debate’ broadcast on April 25, the 60 Minutes camera panned over a publication illustrating the incredible diversity of designs submitted, many without the Union Jack – as one historian noted, entries featured "every kind of flora and fauna identifiable with Australia — sometimes all at once!”.
We are also told that "among the more quirky designs were a kangaroo leaping through the constellation of the Southern Cross, a scene depicting native animals playing cricket with a winged cricket ball, a six-tailed kangaroo representing the six Australian states, and a kangaroo aiming a gun at the Southern Cross…".
…the ACMA decision…
The ACMA ( through its delegate) made the following preliminary findings:
1. the statement cited the wrong year in which the competition was launched
2. the statement failed to specify the Commonwealth’s involvement in the competition; and
3. there is insufficient evidence to support the contention that there was an ‘unwritten rule’ in relation to the Review of Reviews competition (and thereby, the official Government competition).
In the context of the entire report, ACMA did not consider the error in the citation of the year in isolation would have been significantly misleading to the ordinary reasonable viewer.
However, when read in conjunction with the omission of information regarding the Commonwealth, together with the stipulation of an existing unwritten rule, ACMA held that this would have been misleading to the ordinary, reasonable viewer.
Accordingly, the licensee breached clause 4.3.1 of the Code in relation to the presentation of Statement 1.
Later in the programme Ray Martin said:The flag that won that magazine competition over a century ago has served us well. ACMA found that the ordinary, reasonable viewer would have understood the Australian flag was the winning design in the Review of Reviews of Australasia magazine flag competition.
While it was not inaccurate to state that the competition ‘begun’ with a competition launched by a Melbourne magazine (Review of Reviews of Australasia), it was, inaccurate to state that the Australian flag ‘won that magazine competition’. This is because the Australian flag design was the winning design of the Commonwealth Government Federal Flag Competition (gazetted in 1903). So again, Ray Martin misled the viewers.
ACMA made other findings about a Flag at Tobruk and that the broadcaster had failed to provide a written response to the complainant and was again in breach of the Code.
A core claim of the republican flag changers has been exposed, thanks to ANFA’s Mr Pigeon, and ACMA’s investigation.
SCHEDULE 1: Principal ACM reports on the 60 Minute programme of 25 April 2010
SCHEDULE 2: All ACM reports referring to Ray Martin’s initiative
1. Flagging interest
… carefully selected to represent a broad cross-section of Australian society. They include Phillip Adams AO, Ray Martin AM, Anne Keating and diverse other ‘salt of the earth’ types drawn … Friday, 11 February 2011
…estminster system, and yes, the English language? It is all so infantile, so divisive. For the TV presenter Ray Martin, to say he objects to the Union Jack being on our flag because of its British c… Tuesday, 25 January 2011
3. Viewers vote down 60 Minutes Flag Change Campaign
…es programme on ANZAC Day to change our Flag . You can read this here. His email to the compere, Ray Martin, follows:- Dear Mr Martin, A friend, who wants to change th… Friday, 14 May 2010
4. ANZAC Day outrage: Rats of Tobruk reunion gatecrashed by leading flag changer
… 2/13th Battalion’s lunch at the Masonic Centre in Sydney on Anzac Day. Apart from the moderator, Ray Martin, he was the principal proponent for flag change in the controversial ANZAC… Thursday, 13 May 2010
5. The Australian Language
At the Channel 9 public meeting in April concerning the campaign by Ray Martin against the Australian National Flag as a colonial relic, I mentioned that although that although our language came in 17 Tuesday, 11 May 2010
6. Once more unto the breach
…..Bob Hawke to PM: Move now on politicicans' republic…. We certainly did not expect Ray Martin to launch a push for a new flag. Nor did we know that Bob Haw… Friday, 07 May 2010
7. Flag changers condemned by…. republicans**
The campaign by media personalities Ray Martin and Peter FitzSimons broadcast on Channel 9's 60 Minutes programme on ANZAC evening was, as we said here on 26 April, a serious misca Wednesday, 28 April 2010
8. ANZAC Day: Our Heritage **
… be repelled, and the integrity of our national heritage preserved. The campaign by media personalities Ray Martin and Peter FirzSimons broadcast on Channel 9's 60 Minutes program… Monday, 26 April 2010
9. New Flag after republic: Ray Martin**
The Flag will go after Australia becomes a politicians’ republic, predicts leading TV personality, Ray Martin. In the meantime, the defence of the Australian Flag could not be in better Thursday, 22 April 2010
10. The Flag Successfully Defended **
…ng broadcast on ANZAC Day, the event was successful because it was both real and it was democratic. I thought Ray Martin, who has a position I disagree with, ran a pretty fair show. He had to deal wit… Wednesday, 21 April 2010
11. Defending the Flag…Tonight **
As we approached Australia Day this year, the well known TV presenter Ray Martin shocked the nation with a call to shred our National Flag. That campaign is continuing. Ray Martin Monday, 19 April 2010
12. Mate for Head of State Alert
…uo;ve gone deep undercover on this one but I think I’ve pulled it off. On Tuesday I had a meeting with Ray Martin (see this column “Ray Martin and Malcolm Turnbull: Grow Up!” … Sunday, 07 March 2010
13. Confusion: is it on or is it off, Mr. Attorney?
…cial Review at the time of Prince William’s visit (“Change the flag to…. I don't know what :Ray Martin”, 25/1). When Susannah Moran asked him about this for The Australia… Sunday, 07 March 2010
Republicans Ray Martin and Malcolm Turnbull were roundly told they ought to grow up by that éminence grise among Australian editors, Ian Moore. (Spectator Australia, 30 January.) The magazine c Tuesday, 02 February 2010
15. Repel the vandals
… Westminster system, and yes, the English language? It is all so infantile, so divisive. For the TV presenter Ray Martin, to say he objects to the Union Jack being on our flag because of its British c… Thursday, 28 January 2010
16. Australia Day: Repel the Vandals
(Media & News Updates/From the Convenor's Desk) … Westminster system, and yes, the English language? It is all so infantile, so divisive. For the TV presenter Ray Martin, to say he objects to the Union Jack being on our flag because of its British c… Tuesday, 26 January 2010
17. Change the flag to…. I don't know what :Ray Martin
(Media & News Updates/ACM News) TV presenter Ray Martin says he objects “to having the British flag in the corner of our flag. The flag, like the link to Britain through the constitution, will disappear. “ Bu Monday, 25 January 2010
18. The most important thing is to rid us of our heritage: Ray Martin
(Get Involved!/Keep Our Flag) TV presenter Ray Martin says he objects “to having the British flag in the corner of our flag. The flag, like the link to Britain through the constitution, will disappear. “ But, Mr. Monday, 25 January 2010