Support grows for Aboriginal elements in flag

The Sydney Morning Herald, 27 January 1997, p.5.

A decisive majority of Australians would support the inclusion of elements of the Aboriginal flag in any new national flag. In a sign of progress towards reconciliation, the results of a nationwide Herald-AGB McNair Poll conducted last week showed that 66 per cent of voters said they would support "using the Aboriginal flag as part of the design for a new Australian flag".

The level of recognition of the Aboriginal flag was overwhelmingly high. Only 0.4 per cent of the respondents, numbering nearly 2,000, said they did not know what the Aboriginal flag looked like. The poll found a much higher level of acceptance of the possibility of a new national flag than had previous polls. When asked: "If a suitable design for a new Australian flag were found, would you be likely to support or oppose its change?" the nation was split down the middle - 46 per cent in support and 46 per cent opposed (with 8 per cent expressing "don't know").

A surprising number of people said they would support replacing the current Australian flag with the Aboriginal flag. While 75 per cent said they would oppose such a move, a significant minority - one in five - said they would support making the Aboriginal flag the national standard. This proposed change received strongest support among the 18-24 age group - 31 per cent - while older Australians (55 and over) were overwhelmingly opposed, by 84 to 9 per cent.

There were marked differences between men and women, and between age groups. Most men, 49 per cent to 43 per cent supported the principle of a new flag if an appropriate design was put forward. An exact reverse majority of women was opposed to change. A surprise majority of 18-24 year-old respondents (48 per cent to 41 per cent) joined the 55 and older respondents (58 per cent to 33 per cent) in expressing the strongest desire to keep the flag. Support for changing the flag came from the large 25-54 age group, where a clear majority (52 per cent to 40 per cent) expressed openness to an "appropriate" new design.

These results contrast with a national poll last year when a clear majority of Australians, 66 per cent, said they wanted to keep the flag. But the question in that poll pitted the flag against an unknown new flag. The latest poll included the qualifying term "if a suitable new design were found". The issue remains deeply divided along party political lines. A decisive majority of Coalition voters, 60-33 per cent opposed changing the flag while most Labor voters (48 per cent to 41 per cent) support the principle of change.


About the Poll

17-19 January 1997
AGB-McNair
1956
Nationwide
Telephone
About 2%
1 If a suitable design for a new Australian flag were found, would you be likely to support or oppose its change?
  2 One possibility is that the Aboriginal flag could be used as the design for the new flag of Australia. Would you support or oppose making the Aboriginal flag the new flag of Australia?
  3 Another possibility is to have a new Australian flag that includes elements of the Aboriginal flag as part of its design. Would you support or oppose using the Aboriginal flag as part of the design for the new Australian flag?"


Support for elements of Aboriginal flag as part of the new Australian flag

 
  66% 61% 70% 73% 69% 70% 53%

  30% 34% 26% 22% 28% 27% 40%


 
  66% 63% 67% 69% 64% 66% 63% 74%

  30% 34% 28% 24% 34% 29% 37% 24%

 

Support for the Aboriginal flag as the new Australian flag

 
  19% 19% 19% 31% 22% 19% 9%

  75% 76% 74% 62% 70% 76% 84%


 
  19% 18% 22% 17% 21% 12% 25% 29%

  75% 78% 71% 71% 75% 81% 75% 56%