Sydney Morning Herald, 26 January 2011.
© Sydney Morning Herald
Eureka? An answer to that Jack in the corner gets a little bit warmer
TO ANYONE who believes
Australia′s "badging" debate can
be solved by simply replacing the
Union Jack with the red, black
and yellow of the Aboriginal flag,
Lowitja O′Donoghue has some
timely advice: forget it.
"We have lost so much, I′m
afraid. We don′t want to lose our
flag," Dr 0 ′Donoghue, the first
Aboriginal woman to be
inducted into the Order of
Australia, said on the eve of what
she still calls "invasion day".
Although she rejects the
"hybrid" flag- popularised by
the South Australian artist "Talc
Alf" and others- she would,
however, welcome some reference
to indigenous people in a
new flag, perhaps through the
use of red and ochre.
Today′s commitment by Dr
O′Donoghue and fellow Austra-
Hans of the Year to replacing a
flag famously described by the
American comedian Jerry Seinfeld
as "Britain by night" is
intended to be the first step in a
It is meant to secure broad
support for change from an
Australian public still seemingly
half in love with the national
flag, or at least with the fashion
options offered by its mix of
shapes, angles and colours.
As Patrick McGorry, the 2010
Australian of the Year, explained,
the process is meant to be
inclusive. For example, it is
important, he says, to ensure
that English people feel comfortable
with a new flag.
Inevitably, though, many
supporters of change have taken
the potentially more divisive
second step, offering designs for
a flag that the Ausflag executive
director, Harold Scruby, promises
will "bring a lump to the
throat, a tear to the eye".
Several public competitions
have produced a plethora of
suggestions. Most retain stars.
Many incorporate red, bare land
Some add Australian symbols,
such as a kangaroo, much as
Canada adopted the maple leaf.
Some designers have turned to
history of inspiration. There is
considerable support for the
Eureka flag, a symbol of protest,
of defiance, flown by miners
during the rebellion in the
Victorian goldfields in 1851.
Though the flag has since been
hijacked for many causes, it
appeals to the 1994 Australian of
the Year, Ian Kiernan. "It shows
we can stand alone, stand up for
ourselves. I don′t think we′d have
any difficulty reclaiming it."
The present flag came into
being after Federation in 1901,
though it was not given royal
assent and adopted as the definitive
flag until 1954, with the
passing of the Flags Act, 1953.
Five people shared the prize for
the design, which was dismissed
by The Bulletin magazine as "a
staled rechauffe [warm up“ of
the British flag, with no artistic
virtue, no national significance".
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