• Is it time for new Australian flag?

    WEB_Australian Flag V2_pe_c5_20160121
    DEBATE: A Western Sydney University professor’s survey has reignited the debate about Australia’s national flag. PHOTO: Leah Tindill

    MOST local politicians are in favour of Australia’s national flag remaining the same.

    The debate about Australia’s national symbol was re-ignited this week after Western Sydney University’s Professor Benjamin Jones launched a survey asking for national feedback on six new flag designs (pictured below).

    Australian Wattle flag

    Australian Wattle flag

    Australian Sporting flag

    Australian Sporting flag

    Eureka flag

    Eureka flag

    Reconciliation flag

    Reconciliation flag

    Southern Cross flag

    Southern Cross flag

    Southern horizon flag

    Southern horizon flag

    The survey forms part of an Australian Research Council funded project aiming to gain a holistic picture of Australia’s attitude towards the current commonwealth star, southern cross and union jack flag, which was adopted in 1908, and any potential change.

    The renewed debate also comes off the back of a New Zealand referendum which chose an alternative design to the country’s current flag.

    A secondary referendum will be held in March for the country to vote on whether they want to keep the current flag or change to the new design, which has replaced the union jack with a silver fern.

    Other than the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Tuvalu and Fiji are the only countries with a union jack on their design.

    Among local politicians, Indi Greens candidate Jenny O’Connor was one of only two championing change, saying the Australian flag needed to be updated to reflect recent changes to our society.

    “I don’t think the flag reflects the diversity of the Australian society,” Ms O’Connor told the Wangaratta Chronicle yesterday.

    “I think we need to have a flag that is inclusive of everyone in Australia and not one that is Euro-centric with the union jack.

    “Our flag is representative of its time but we have developed as a nation and we need to reflect that in our flag.”

    Ms O’Connor said a process similar to New Zealand’s route for potentially changing its flag could work in Australia.

    “The way New Zealand has done it, with running a competition and then having people vote, is a manageable process that hasn’t caused too much angst from what I can gather,” she said.

    “I think that kind of process would work well in Australia.”

    Meanwhile, Cathy McGowan (MHR, Indi) said she was “proud” to work under the Australian flag and that the six new designs did not encapsulate the same symbolism as the current one.

    “It’s a really serious topic but I don’t think new designs capture the values and emotions that the flag represents to me,” Ms McGowan said.

    “I look at what the professor has done – and it will be interesting to see the response – but I don’t think these new designs capture the symbolism and values of the flag and what it means to me when I see it flying.”

    Tim McCurdy (MLA, Ovens Valley) was emphatic in his response when asked what his thoughts were about Australia changing to a new flag.

    “I don’t believe we should be getting a new flag,” Mr McCurdy said.

    “People have fought and died under our flag and it has been used to represent our country for many, many years, I think it should stay.

    “Sometimes people want change for the sake of change – it’s certainly representative of our country in its current state.”

    Indi Nationals’ candidate Marty Corboy echoed Tim McCurdy’s sentiments, saying a long associated history with the flag should be reason enough to keep it.

    “My view is that our current flag is still suitable and has seen us through a number of historic events,” he said.

    “Our troops have fought under that flag for many years and people have died under that flag defending our country.

    “It always seems to be this time of year when that argument comes out again and, quite frankly, I’m sick of it.”

    Indi Liberal candidate Sophie Mirabella is also against changing the flag, saying it is a symbol of our country’s achievements.

    “For the 20 years I have been in public life, I have always been supportive of our flag,” Mrs Mirabella said.

    “I not only support retaining the Australian flag, but also flying it with pride, as I did when I was in office in Indi.

    “It’s a unifying symbol that represents so much of where our traditions come from and what we’ve achieved as a nation.”

    Indi Labor candidate Eric Kerr said change was an inevitability in the future, on the way to Australia becoming a republic nation.

    “I’d like to see (the flag) represent Indigenous culture much more, that’s a must for me.

    “There’s the argument about people dying under the flag and I’ve shut that down before: people didn’t always fight under the Australian flag, they fought under the Red Ensign as opposed to the blue one we have.

    “People also don’t die for a flag, they die for people and their country.”

    What do you think about our current Australian flag? Vote now in our web poll at www.wangarattachronicle.com.au or send a letter to the editor via [email protected]

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