Discussion on moves to change the Australian flag

Howard Sattler, Radio 2SM Sydney, 10.12am 9th October 2000

Quicktime Listen to this interview (Quicktime movie, 7 min 23 sec, 2.4 MB)

HOWARD SATTLER (Presenter)
Balladeer John Williamson and "We Must Have a Flag of our Own", which is a pretty good way to introduce our next interview or interviews, because we've got two people on opposite sides of this issue. I just should reiterate that the Prime Minister has said post Olympics that the huge enthusiasm for the Australian flag has severely set back, if not killed off the moves to change the flag and dump the Union Jack from the corner of it.

He said no one was the least bit ashamed to wear it, they could tell it was ours and nobody else's. The irony of this whole thing is that those who wanted to change the flag have argued it was embarrassing to have a flag at the Games that contained the Union Jack. Yet the Olympic Games have given our flag the greatest international display it's ever had and therefore made it more recognisable than ever before, and in the process removed the arguments to change that.

Well, Howard Scruby has been campaigning for some years now for a flag of our own. Cop that Harold.

HAROLD SCRUBY (Ausflag)
Fantastic.

SATTLER
From the Prime Minister, cop that.

SCRUBY
Yeah, but that's expected. I mean, the fact is that practically everyone, for every person who bought an Australian flag someone bought a boxing kangaroo flag because they're quite unhappy with our flag.

SATTLER
You're not suggesting the boxing kangaroo be our national flag are you?

SCRUBY
Of course not, but I'm saying that in any other country meaning to fly any form of, you know, other flag. You saw at the very end what the Canadians did - they stood in the middle under the biggest maple leaf you've ever seen but they didn't have a boxing beaver.

SATTLER
(Laughs)

SCRUBY
We've got to have a flag of our own. What the Prime Minister fails to recognise is our flag is a colonial flag. And I've argued in my article last week that it's possible that the collapse of our dollar could even be related to the fact that we're flying a flag that still says we're a colony or a subordinate branch office of Britain.

SATTLER
All right, well, stay there. Disagreeing with you, I'm sure, is a well known Monarchist. She was the successful campaigner with the Prime Minister. I think they could probably stand up together and say that they stopped the Republic last year - Kerry Jones. Hello Kerry.

KERRY JONES (Australians for a Constitutional Monarchy)
Hi Harold.

SATTLER
Oh, you're saying hello to Harold first. She's saying hello to you Harold.

SCRUBY
Hi Kerry.

JONES
Hi. How are you?

SATTLER
Okay.

JONES
Look, I... Howard, I feel very strongly about this issue as do most Australians who adore...

SATTLER
That's why I've got you on, yes.

SCRUBY
... our wonderful flag. It's the best flag in the world. There's no doubt about that, Howard. And...

SATTLER
How would you compare it with the New Zealand flag then?

JONES
Well, let's just look at what our flag has on it. It's got, of course, our heritage, our history in the Union Jack. You can't deny your history. Then, of course, we've got the Southern Cross which is the geography that's been here in eternity for all Australians, and then we've got the seven pointer star which is our constitution which is our federation of our states. There's no other flag in the world that has geography, history and constitution all in the same flag. It's a beautiful flag and we're going to fight to keep it.

SATTLER
Well, as I said the New Zealand one there, on that basis, has got it too.

JONES
Well, the New Zealand doesn't have our seven pointer... our constitutional star, the federation star, and that's one of the features of our flag and...

SATTLER
But do you think they'd raised it... if they had raised the New Zealand flag - sadly they didn't win any gold medals - do you think that foreign people watching it on television would have known the difference?

JONES
Well, I think everyone knows the Australian flag now, Howard. There's no doubt about that. It was flown right across the world and I'm very, very proud of it and I think you'll find most Australians - well over eighty per cent of Australians - are very, very proud of our own national flag.

SATTLER
So, have countries like Canada and the United States got it wrong?

JONES
Well, I don't think we need to worry about other countries. I'm Australian and I'm very, very proud of our Australian flag.

SATTLER
No, but they're countries that have taken the Union Jack off original flags which have flown in their countries. Have they got it wrong?

JONES
If you want to get down to that specific argument, Hawaii have kept it. So, look, let's... I think we're talking here about Australia, our Australian flag was flying high throughout the Olympics. I've still got my huge Australian flag outside the front of my house and I'm very, very proud of it.

SATTLER
It doesn't surprise me, Kerry. It does not surprise me. Well, but for every one Australian flag, the official one, I'd put it you - and Harold would too - there were probably two boxing kangaroo flags.

JONES
I'd deny that. I was out at the Games quite a lot and I'd say that eighty per cent of the flags being waved and flown were the Australian flag and, of course, it's the flag - the official flag - that came up behind our Olympians. So, it's our flag, it belongs to us and...

SATTLER
Well, you know why it came up behind the Olympians, because it was the only one allowed to.

JONES
Look, every event I was at eighty per cent of the flags being waved were the Australian flag, I can assure you.

SATTLER
Just for you I'm sure, Kerry. So, is this the end of the debate?

JONES
Of course... well, so long as we've got people like Harold still trying to push to change something that everyone loves, you know, we're still going to be debating it. But I think he's out of touch with most Australians, with rank and file Australians who just love that flag and we're going to fight to keep it.

SATTLER
There you go, Harold.

SCRUBY
Can I just say one thing? Kerry, in an article a month ago you wrote that the Australian flag had the Union Jack on it and the Milky Way. Now, I would have hoped...

JONES
No, I actually said the Southern Cross and the...

SCRUBY
You wrote the Milky Way.

JONES
... the journalist translated that into the Milky Way which was ...

SCRUBY
Oh, we'll check that but can I ask you something? What is the difference between the Australian and New Zealand flag? I've got you on the spot. Now, what is the actual difference?

JONES
The federational star ...

SCRUBY
Yeah, and what else?

JONES
... the seven pointer star, which is our Commonwealth, our constitution, our great Commonwealth which we'll all celebrate January one, 2001 when it's a hundred years old. That star is a very important ...

SCRUBY
Yeah, and what else. What's the difference? Come on, besides the baloney what's the difference between the two flags?

JONES
Well, the sev...

SCRUBY
Can you just describe the other differences please? There are three...

JONES
That's a fundamental difference, an absolutely fundamental difference to have the Commonwealth on there.

SCRUBY
So, how many...

JONES
The federation.

SCRUBY
Excuse me Kerry, how many stars on the Australian flag?

JONES
Well, we've got the stars of the Southern Cross which we've just discussed.

SCRUBY
No, how many stars in total Kerry?

JONES
And then we've got the seven pointer star. You can tell us, you know, the details of that.

SCRUBY
No, no, come on Kerry, how many stars on the Australian flag?

JONES
Well, how many do you think there are?

SCRUBY
I know. I'm asking you.

SATTLER
You'll win a prize if you get it right, Kerry.

JONES
Well, we've got the stars of the Southern Cross and we've got...

SCRUBY
Yeah, we know that, Kerry. How many stars in total?

JONES
We've got the seven pointer star, which is something...

SCRUBY
Yes, how many stars in total?

JONES
... that I am arguing very, very strongly that we should have.

SATTLER
(Laughs)

SCRUBY
I think we've got a winner here, Howard.

SATTLER
Oh dear. All right. Now, Kerry ...

SCRUBY
What a beauty. She hasn't learned anything about the Australian flag.

JONES
I certainly stand up for what I believe in. Well, Harold, I think you have got that wrong there. You are the person who's saying we should change it because it's a colonial flag.

SCRUBY
No, I'm asking you how many stars on it. You only care about the Union Jack.

JONES
The flag was not flown...

SCRUBY
How many stars on the Australian flag?

JONES
Look, the stars and Southern Cross, how many flags are... how many stars are there in the Southern Cross?

SCRUBY
Well, that's what you're telling me, because I know.

JONES
I'm not an expert on how many stars there are in Southern Cross.

SCRUBY
Oh right. There you are, Howard. You've got it on your own station today. Kerry Jones does not know how many stars on the Australian flag.

SATTLER
(Laughs)

JONES
I think there's probably four, isn't it? Four on... isn't it four stars in the Southern Cross, and then the seven pointer federation star?

SCRUBY
Well, that just shows you. There aren't.

JONES
Why won't you tell us? I'm sure everyone would love to hear.

SCRUBY
You have no idea, Kerry Jones. Because you're a closet Pom. You're not an Australian.

JONES
Oh come on.

SCRUBY
You do not know how many stars on the Australian flag. There are five...

JONES
Well, you want to tear up our history.

SCRUBY
... in the Southern Cross, and there is one federation star.

SATTLER
All right. Well...

JONES
Harold, you're not going to win any brownie points...

SCRUBY
Unlike New Zealand, where there are four.

SATTLER
We'll leave you there, only because listeners have been fired up sufficiently to want to have a talk about this. So thanks for joining us.

SCRUBY
Thank you, Howard.

JONES
It's a pleasure, and stop trying to tear up our history and our heritage and constitution, Howard.