Auflag's response to letter from John Vaughan, Australian National Flag Association

Mr John Christian Vaughan
Australian National Flag Association

Dear John (please call me Harold)

It seems like the only exercise you've been getting lately is jumping to conclusions.

For the record, Mr Turnbull was so attuned to the views of the rest of the community, that his Republican model, which he forced on the Australian people, failed in every state.

Meanwhile, the NZ Chef de Mission in Athens, Mr Dave Currie has just stated that the vast majority of the NZ Olympic Team would prefer to march under the black and white, "silver fern" flag than their current "Britain at Night" - Australian Flag look-a-like.

I remind you of the most articulate words of the former Canadian Consul-General to Australia, Mr D.J. Stimpson, who described the events in Canada post 1965:

Public discussion of the issue was extensive and often heated. Parliamentary debate lasted through six months, although it is likely that this would have been briefer had the question not been seized on by the Opposition in the hope, through it, of toppling a minority government. Popular opposition to a distinctive flag tended to centre on nostalgia and was led principally by members of the Royal Canadian Legion, the Canadian equivalent of the Returned Services League. Support reflected a strong and growing sense of national identity and concern for the political consequences of a symbol perceived increasingly to be both inappropriate and provocative.

In retrospect, it seems clear that the national mood during the flag debate was deceptive. The immediate, universal and (for Canadians) surprisingly emotional acceptance of the Maple Leaf flag following adoption shows clearly that the overwhelming majority of citizens wanted a distinctive symbol but that this desire remained largely inchoate until a design of strong appeal was presented to them. Until then, and while many less appealing designs sought acceptance, indifference or hostility to particular proposals tended to be interpreted as indifference or hostility to the concept itself. In the event, opposition to a distinctive flag collapsed entirely following proclamation of the Maple Leaf flag and no move subsequently has sought its replacement. It is likely that historians will view the Canadian flag debate as an inevitable stage in our national maturation and as an early step in a more fundamental re-definition of our national identity.

Had it ever occurred to you that like Canada, the national mood regarding our flag may also be deceptive? And do you really believe that when we become a Republic, we will be celebrating same under a Union Jack flag which screams out to the rest of the world that we remain subordinate to Great Britain?

But thanks for you offer of membership. Unfortunately, unlike Mr Turnbull, I must decline. But I would watch him very closely: When the tide turns, so will he.

PS: And would you please stop referring to the Australian flag as the "flag of stars and crosses". Its correct definition is the British Blue Ensign defaced by the southern cross and Federation star - or simply "Britain at Night".