Friday 9 December 1994

Australian Flag Myths Exposed

The release of Gerard Henderson′s book "Menzies′ Child" has helped confirm the view that the Australian flag as we now know it was not the flag which Australians would have used as their national flag prior to 1954, the Executive Director of Ausflag, Mr Harold Scruby said today. He made the following points:

  1. In the early part of the century Australian soldiers mostly departed and returned under the Union Jack. The Australian red and blue ensigns were used as banners or shipping flags.

  2. Towards World War II, the Australian red ensign became popular, although the Union Jack usually flew alone or in a senior position to the red ensign. The blue ensign was rarely seen, its use being restricted to government buildings and schools.

  3. Bruce Ruxton paid $25000 for the flag kept by the prisoners of Changi. It is an Australian red ensign. Sir Douglas Mawson′s flag in his time capsule in Antarctica is an Australian red ensign.

  4. When Queen Elizabeth II came to Australia in 1954, she was welcomed by millions of Australians mostly waving Union Jacks and Australian red ensigns. During that visit she proclaimed the current Australian flag, for the first time making the blue ensign the preferred colour.

  5. The Liberal Party was not formed under an Australian flag, it was formed under the Union Jack.

  6. It is quite likely that Menzies′ adoption of a blue ensign in 1954 as the Australian Flag in preference to the popular red ensign, without any consultation with the Australian people, was for political purposes. The clues to this can be found in Menzies′ statement in his book "Afternoon Light" relating to "red being a respectable colour" in his youth. This change from socialist red to Liberal Party blue was made during the time when Menzies was campaigning against the communists.

Mr Scruby said it was important that Australians were aware of the true history of the current Australian flag. He said the argument so frequently advanced that we should not change it because so many Australians had fought and died under the current Australian flag, was historically and factually incorrect.

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