The Age continues its campaign to change the flag and our constitutional system. It was at it again on Saturday with a piece by actor and writer Peter Houghton, “Let's take a risk and flag a new identity.”
Since the nineties The Australian has ceded the title Australia’s most republican newspaper to The Age. In The Australian’s Cut and Paste (24/8) the newspaper points to something we have been talking here about for years.
The Age is still published under a purloined version of the Royal Coat of Arms. Actually it gives the news paper the appearance of a serious journal of record, no doubt something it wishes to keep. That doesn't stop the newspaper from demanding the nation chnage its symbols and indeed its constitutional system,
Peter Houghton's piece is predictable. Conceding Federation may have been our greatest achievement, he says “Maybe it is, but it's not exactly the stuff of legend.” Perhaps it isn’t- because of people like him and The Age. Our Federation – the only one of a whole continent and extraordinarily peaceful – has been actually one of the greatest achievements in the world.
As for the flag, he is dismissive – “ the Royal Navy ensign (Union Jack on royal blue background) of the United Kingdom” with “twinkly bits”, the Southern Cross and the Federal, or Commonwealth, Star. “Is the Southern Cross the most potent symbol of Australia? Is Federation – that moment when Australian politicians asked Queen Victoria for it and she yawned and said ''OK'' – our greatest achievement?”
“But big symbolic issues, “ he says” tend to bring out big egos hoping to be great by association. The Australian republican movement will long be remembered for the undignified hissy fits of Malcolm Turnbull and an instantaneously regal Steve Vizard. In the red corner weighing in at 84 kilograms (if you included her jewellery) was QEII.
"Prime Minister John Howard muddied the waters and the people took the safe option. It was an option that had created Magna Carta, prevailed through Reformation, Restoration, Revolution and Empire. It had seen off the Armada, Bonaparte, Hitler and even Posh Spice! Sure. But what now?”
That signals his call for a new flag.
This piece is consistent with The Age’s anti Flag republican campaign. This would probably not be supported by its readers, especially those who pay to have it delivered at home.
The Age knows that if it had the courage of its convictions, and abandoned its Royal banner, it might be the last straw for many of its readers.