Union Jacks
And Southern Skies


The Australian Commonwealth Flag
And The Need For A New National Flag


Gary Howell





THE NEED FOR A FEDERAL FLAG


As early as the 1840s there had been suggestions that the Australian colonies should form some kind of federation. The impetus for federation lay in concerns over defence, coloured immigration, and economic interests; as well as due to the growth of an Australian national spirit. In the 1880s and 1890s nationalist sentiment was growing rapidly throughout the Australian colonies. In 1883 the Colonial Premiers called for the creation of a Federal Council of Australasia, which was formed by the British Parliament two years later, but which proved to be a weak body. The speech given by the NSW Premier, Sir Henry Parkes, at Tenterfield in 1889, calling for a Federal Parliament, heralded the beginning of the federal movement. Federal Leagues were formed, supported by Edmund Barton and branches of the Australian Natives Association, which boosted the political struggle for an Australian Federation.(1)

Several National Conferences and Conventions were held to discuss a Federal Constitution. The final version of this Constitution was eventually accepted by the people of the six colonies, voting in separate colonial referendums in 1889 and 1900. The Constitution was presented to the British Parliament, which, after making some minor amendments, duly passed it into law. Thus, by an act of the British Parliament, the Commonwealth of Australia came into being on the 1st of January 1901.(2)

A need therefore arose for a flag to represent this federation of Australia's colonies.




COMPETITION FOR A FLAG


Viewing the necessity for a flag to represent the new Commonwealth of Australia, the Imperial Authorities, through the British Secretary of State for the Commonwealth, requested the Australian Government to suggest a flag design.(3) To achieve this, the Government decided to hold a flag competition.

However, the groundwork for such a competition had already been laid by a Melbourne journal, The Review of Reviews for Australasia. Indeed, a Melbourne newspaper, the Evening Herald, had previously conducted its own flag competition.

In October 1900, the Review of Reviews, had announced a competition to design a flag for the soon-to-be Australian Commonwealth. The 1st of February 1901 was originally set as the closing date for the competition. The Premiers of the six Australian colonies had agreed to act as judges, with the first prize being 50 (quite a large sum in those days).(4)

While the competition was still under way the Federal Government announced that it was also going to hold a flag competition, offering a prize of 75. It was then agreed that the two competitions would combine, so that "entries sent to the journal should be considered as entries for the government competition, and visa versa". The Review of Reviews increased its prize to 75, and the Havelock Tobacco Company made a donation of 50, bringing the prize to 200. New judges were chosen as the State Premiers felt that they should not judge a Commonwealth contest.(5)

The Government published the details of its competition in the Government Gazette of 29th April 1901, but gave no requirements as to the design of the flag. The earlier flag competition of the Evening Herald, had stipulated that the flag must include both the Union Jack and the Southern Cross. The Review of Reviews, in the preamble accompanying its own "Conditions of Competition", noted this condition of the Herald's competition, and specifically wrote that "it seems unwise to fetter the competition with any such absolute limitations". However, in the same preamble, the Review of Reviews clearly stated that any entry for the flag competition "which omitted these symbols might have small chance of success", as well as putting forward the challenge to create a flag "which shall at once express kinship with the Empire".(6)




NO FLAG WITHOUT A UNION JACK


Thus, while on the one hand, the Review of Reviews was saying it would take all designs, on the other hand it was saying that the flag should show "kinship with the Empire" (the Union Jack being the most obvious symbol) and that any design not including the Union Jack would "have small chance of success". Indeed, the final report from the judges declared that "it was apparent that a Commonwealth flag, to be representative, should contain: the Union Jack...". 32,823 designs were entered into the competition, but following the instructions so obviously spelt out, "the great majority ... contained the Union Jack and Southern Cross", leading the judges to state "it was felt that the only additional emblem required was one representing the Federation of the six States". The inclusion of the Union Jack was a foregone conclusion.(7)

The winning design came in a set of two, as all entries did, as they had to submit two coloured sketches of their design: one for merchant use (in red) and one for naval or official use (in blue). The winning design consisted of three emblems: the Union Jack (officially called the Union Flag) in the upper hoist, also known as the Canton (the top left of the flag, in heraldic terms - the "place of honour" and most "honourable" part of the flag), the Federation Star in the Lower Hoist (bottom left), and the Southern Cross occupying the Fly (the right side of the flag).(8)

Not only was the flag competition set up so that the entrants understood that to win they must include a Union Jack, but the judges for the competition were all "Empire men", those who belonged to the Establishment and were certain to believe in Australia's place in the British Empire, thus guaranteeing that the Union Jack would receive pride of place in the new flag. The original judging panel consisted of six politicians (the State Premiers), and the later judging panel consisted of one politician (Captain Evans, M.H.A., Tasmania) and four current and former government officials (Captain Mitchell, Captain Eadie, Captain Clare, and Lieutenant Thompson), all of whom were certain to place the Union Jack in the flag.(9)

No public referendum was held for the public to vote for a new flag, as that choice was to be kept in the hands of the British and Australian Governments.




THE DECISION LIES WITH BRITAIN


But it was not with the Australian Government that the final decision for a new flag was to lie, but with the British Government. Even though Australia had become a federation of colonies, that did not make her a sovereign nation, but instead just made her a bigger "colony" (albeit one with more status).

The Government Gazette announcing the competition had stated that "The successful design will be submitted to the Imperial authorities", while also acknowledging that it was possible that "the design be not accepted by the Imperial authorities". The need for such approval from the British Government was apparently in the minds of the judges, as they wrote in their final report that their chosen flag design "should be agreeable to the home authorities" ("home authorities" referring to Britain, not Australia, as to "Empire men" Britain was the "Home Country"). The Judges' chosen design was publicly revealed on 3rd of September 1901 at a Flag Exhibition opened by Prime Minister Barton.(10)

In November 1901 Prime Minister Barton told the House of Representatives that "The Government is submitting for the consideration of the Right Honorable the Secretary of State for the Colonies, a flag, the design of which was sent in by five individuals at the recent competition... Also another design which met with the approval of the Naval Assessors to the Board of Judges".(11)

The other flag that Barton spoke of was the popular Australian Federation Flag, often referred to as the "Australian Ensign" or the "Australian Flag", used widely by the Australian Federation League to promote the federation of the Australian colonies, and which had been regarded as Australia's "unofficial national flag". Barton had sent to Britain both the competition winning design and the Federation Flag design for a decision by the "Home Authorities" as to which should be the Commonwealth flag. It was not until the 20th February 1903 (over a year later!) that the official advice appeared in the Government Gazette that King Edward VII had approved a design, being the one which had won the flag competition.(12)

So, the Commonwealth Flag was chosen, not by the Australian people, not by a panel of Australian flag judges, not by the Australian Government, but by the British Government and King Edward VII (or perhaps more specifically, by the British Admiralty or the Secretary of State for the Colonies?).




THE 1909 AMENDMENT


In 1908 the British Government was asked to agree to the addition of a seventh point in the Commonwealth Star to symbolise the Territory of Papua, which had been acquired in 1906, as well as any future Australian territories. Approval from the British Authorities for the change was notified in the Government Gazette of 22nd May 1909. Australia still lacked the independence to change its own flag.(13)




CRITICISM OF THE FLAG


As soon as the new competition-winning flag design had become public, volleys of criticism were levelled at it. Many were critical from an aesthetic perspective, with much criticism being made of the extremely large Federal Star (later to be made smaller by the 1909 amendment).(14)

It was seen by many as basically the same design of the Victorian State Flag; with the crown in the Victorian Flag being taken away from the upper fly, and the Federal Star being placed in the lower hoist. Considering the inter-State rivalries current at the time, this close similarity to the Victorian Flag wouldn't have impressed many people in the other States.(15)

There were some who felt that the winning design of the earlier Herald competition was far superior to the design chosen. The Herald had held its flag competition before the Review of Reviews had begun theirs, and the design that won the Herald's 25 prize was almost the same as the design which had been produced by the Review of Reviews' competition. The difference was that whereas the Commonwealth Flag had a large star in its lower hoist, the Herald Flag had six red stripes there; each to represent the Australian States. Mention should also be made that although the Herald design had been attacked for having copied the idea of red stripes from the flag of the United States of America, the Herald had pointed out that red strips were actually a feature of the British East India Company long before the U.S. flag existed.(16)

The third Prime Minister of Australia, John Watson (ALP), had even suggested substituting a different design for the Commonwealth Flag, one that "had the Union Jack in the center resting on six vertical red stripes on a white ground." He was criticised by some of his own supporters for proposing this, as they demanded an Australian Flag without a Union Jack.(17)

Republicans generally had attacked the Commonwealth Flag, as it included the Union Jack. Indeed, to the republicans, any design incorporating the Union Jack was to be opposed as it represented allegiance to the British Empire, rather than to the Australian nation.(18)

Also, some conservatives were unhappy with the flag, in particular with the inclusion of the Southern Cross, as they associated that symbol with the radicalism of the Eureka Stockade. Many conservatives were quite content to go on using the Union Jack.(19)




THE UNION JACK IN AUSTRALIA'S FLAG


The fact is that there was no doubt that the Union Jack would be part of the Commonwealth Flag, indeed, that it would occupy the most important position on the flag.

The Union Jack was not included in the flag to symbolise our heritage, as some claim, but to symbolise Great Britain itself. The Review of Reviews related that the flag "should contain the Union Jack, to stand for Great Britain", not to stand for our British heritage.(20)

As the Flags Act 1953 proclaimed: "The Australian National flag is the British Blue Ensign... differenced by a large white star... and five white stars, representing the Southern Cross..." (emphasis added). That is, the Commonwealth Flag is a British Blue Ensign "defaced" by some Australian emblems.(21)







PART TWO:

THE STATUS OF THE FLAG






THE NATIONAL FLAG MISUNDERSTOOD


The Commonwealth flag competition required that each entry should consist of "two coloured sketches - one for the merchant service, and one for naval or official use". Thus, it evolved that the blue ensign was used for Government use, whilst the red ensign was used by the Merchant Navy.(22)

For many years "the Commonwealth Blue Ensign was regarded as an official flag, and its use on land was restricted to government establishments. The flying of the Ensign on land by individuals and non-government bodies was discouraged". It was, therefore, the red ensign that enjoyed much use by the public. Red ensigns were displayed in schools, used on expeditions, and taken to war by servicemen; indeed, that famous flag made in secret by the Changi prisoners-of-war was a red ensign. When Mawson landed in Antarctica in 1930, the flags he and his men stood under were the Union Jack and the Australian red ensign.(23)

From September 1901 Australia had two officially approved ensigns, but since neither was specifically for use by the public, it was not surprising that the popular Federation Flag (used in the movement for the federation of the Australian colonies) was still widely flown, even up into the 1920s. The Federation Flag was viewed as "a flag of the people" and continued to be used, especially on public occasions; as well as in literature and advertising. It was even flown at official events, such as the 1907 Melbourne meeting of State Premiers, and during the 1927 visit to Australia of the Duke and Duchess of York (the future King George VI and Queen Elizabeth).(24)

The flying of the blue ensign by the general public was eventually encouraged by Prime Minister Menzies in 1941, during the Second World War, when he directed "that there should be no restrictions on the flying of the flag". This directive was later supported by a press statement issued by Prime Minister Chifley in 1947.(25)

However, despite the existence of the two Australian ensigns, the Union Jack remained the national flag of Australia. As the 1939 edition of the authoritative Flags of the World states: "The national flag of the Commonwealth of Australia is of course the Union, her ensign the Blue Ensign with a large white seven pointed star beneath the Union, and the Southern Cross" (emphasis added). Throughout Australia, in the early part of the century, "the Union Jack was almost as often flown as the Australian flag", although often with an Australian ensign alongside. Menzies himself had spelt out the position of the Union Jack, when he made a radio speech on the brink of the Second World War, declaring that Australia and Britain were "at one", under "one king, one flag".(26)

Thus it can be seen that the flag of the Australian Commonwealth was regarded as an Ensign, not a National Flag. As Barlow Cumberland explained in 1909, the use of the term "ensign" arose "from the early days when a smaller flag - bearing a national emblem or the crest or coat-of-arms of a liege lord - had been inserted in a larger flag. This larger flag, bearing the emblem or insignia of its wearers, was termed an `Ensign'" and that "the younger nations of the Britains over the seas raise the Union Jack in the upper corner of their Dominion Union Ensigns to tell that their bearers are all Britons, sons and daughters of the Family, loyal to the British Crown." Although the present Australian flag is now legally the National Flag, it is still technically regarded as an Ensign.(27)

The legal status of the flag was finally changed in the early 1950s. In 1951 King George VI "approved a recommendation by the Government that the Commonwealth Blue Ensign be adopted as the Australia Flag". Therefore, in November 1953, the Australian Parliament passed the Flags Act to proclaim that the Australian blue ensign was now the "Australian National Flag" and that the red version was now the "Australian Red Ensign". However, the Flags Act did not become law until after Queen Elizabeth II, on her Royal Tour in Australia, personally assented to it on 14th February 1954 (the Act's actual date of commencement was the 14th April 1954).(28)

From its unveiling in 1901 to its Imperial approval in 1903, the Commonwealth Flag had no official status; from 1903 to 1954 it was simply the Australian Blue Ensign, the junior partner to the Union Jack. It became the national flag in 1954; but from 1901 up to 1954 it was the Union Jack that was the national flag of Australia.




THE FLAG AT WAR


An often heard argument has been that the flag should not be changed, as Australians have fought and died under it. Such an argument has interesting implications.

The Union Jack was the flag used by the Australian forces in the Sudan War (1885), the Boxer Rebellion (1900-1901), and the Boer War (1899-1902, i.e. both before and after Federation). The Union Jack was predominant in the First World War. During the Second World War "there was confusion about the Union Jack, the Defaced Red Ensign and the Defaced Blue Ensign". In the Korean War, Australians fought under the United Nations' Flag. As for Australians fighting under the present Commonwealth Flag, "the only war (undeclared) where that was definitively the case was the Vietnam War".(29)

Therefore, following the implications of such an argument, Australia should have kept the Union Jack as its flag. The notion is ridiculous. Even the Union Jack itself has been changed (in 1649, 1658, 1660, and 1800), and such a move would not have been considered as a sign of disrespect to Britain's military, or war dead. The fact is that a nation has an inherent right to change its flag.(30)

Indeed, as Harold Scruby and Brendan Jones have argued, "The Australian naval ensign was changed in 1967 and [the] Australian Air Force ensign was changed in 1949 and again in 1982. Ex-servicemen proudly march on Anzac Day under these flags rather than the ones they "fought under". But what a spurious argument to suggest that our allies from Canada, South Africa and New Guinea fought for a lesser cause simply because they have subsequently changed their flags".(31)

Indeed, it would be safe to assume that Australians who went to war were fighting for reasons such as: for Australia, a way of life, their families and friends, their comrades-in-arms, themselves, adventure, and because they had to; they were not fighting "for a flag". They fought for other concrete reasons, not to maintain a particular design on a piece of cloth. Did they fight to stop the flag being changed in 1909 (the 1909 amendment) or in 1954 (the change from the Union Jack to the Commonwealth Flag)? The argument is ridiculous, and belittles the sacrifices of the Australian fighting forces.




BRITISH BLUE ENSIGNS THROUGHOUT THE WORLD


The British Blue Ensign has been, and still is, used throughout the world as a "colonial" symbol of British ownership, with each Blue Ensign being "defaced" by local emblems to signify the identity of that particular British "possession".

The British Blue Ensign has been used for dozens of British colonies and possessions (each with their own local emblem attached) such as those in the following list:(32)


NATIONAL, STATE, AND TERRITORY FLAGS


Aden
Antigua
Australia
-New South Wales
-Queensland
-South Australia
-Tasmania
-Victoria
-Western Australia
Bahamas
Barbados
Belize
Bermuda
British Antarctic Territory
British Guiana
British Honduras
British Solomon Islands
British Virgin Islands
Canada
-British Columbia
-Manitoba
-New Brunswick
-Newfoundland
-Ontario
-Quebec
Cayman Islands
Ceylon
Cook Islands
Cyprus
Dominica
East Africa Protectorate
Falkland Islands
Fiji
Gambia
Gibraltar
Gilbert and Ellice Islands
Gold Coast
Grenada
Hong Kong
Jamaica
Kenya
Labuan
Leeward Islands
Malta
Mauritius
Montserrat
New Zealand
Nigeria
North Borneo
North Rhodesia
Nyasaland Protectorate
Papua
Penang
Pitcairn Islands
Rhodesia-Nyasaland Federation
St. Christopher, Nevis and Anguilla
St. Helena
St. Lucia
St. Vincent
Sarawak
Settlement of Malacca
Seychelles
Sierra Leone
Singapore
Somaliland
Straits Settlements
Tanganyika Territory
Trinidad and Tobago
Turks and Caicos Islands
Tuvalu
Virgin Islands
Western Region of Nigeria
Windward Islands


AUTHORITIES' AND OFFICIAL FLAGS


Admiralty Vessels
Board of Trade
British South Africa Co.
Commissioners of Irish Lights
Consuls Afloat
Customs
Fisheries Board, Scotland
Fishery Research
Lloyd's Signal Stations
Naval Ordinance
Northern Lighthouse Flag
Other Ranks Afloat
Pacific Cable Board
Post Office
Royal East Africa Navy
War Office Engineers
War Office Ordinance


These are just some of the many British Blue Ensign Flags, past and present. Most of these have since changed their flag's design, such as Canada, but the point remains: Australia's Commonwealth Flag has the same status as the old flags of Britain's ex-colonies, or the flags of many British government authorities; that of a "defaced" British Blue Ensign. It is a flag of subordination, which needs to be changed to reflect the status of a sovereign independent nation, such as when Australia becomes a Republic. As Ron Tandberg quipped, the Commonwealth Flag is just "a British flag with some stars tossed in".(33)







APPENDIX ONE:

UNION JACK OR UNION FLAG?



Throughout this document, the British flag has been referred to as the "Union Jack". Officially, it is called the "Union Flag". Strictly speaking, "the Union Flag becomes a Union Jack only when flown from the jackstaff at the bow of a vessel of the Royal Navy". However, "the practice of calling it the Union Jack in almost all circumstances is so widespread as to make it the flag's unofficial name".(34)







APPENDIX TWO:

THE USE OF THE SOUTHERN CROSS IN AUSTRALIAN FLAGS




1823-1824         National Colonial Flag for Australia
1831-1901 NSW Ensign
1830s NSW Merchant Flag
1830s Sydney Flag
1851 Australasian Anti-Transportation League
1853 Murray River Flag (New South Wales/Victoria)
1853 Murray River Flag (South Australia)
1854 Eureka Flag
1870-1877 Victoria, State Flag
1870-1876 South Australia, State Flag
1870-1876 New South Wales, State Flag
1875-1876 Tasmania, State Flag
1876-Present New South Wales, State Flag
1877-1901 Victoria, State Flag (with the Imperial crown)
1889-1901 Australian Federation Flag
1900 Herald Federal Flag
1901-Present Victoria, State Flag (with St. Edward's crown)
1901-1903 Commonwealth Ensign (competition design)
1903-1909 Commonwealth Ensign (1903 Gazette design)
1909-Present Commonwealth Ensign (1909 Gazette design)
(National Flag from 1954)
1978-Present Northern Territory
1993-Present Australian Capital Territory



Note: This list is intended to represent all important Australian Southern Cross flags, but does not cover all flags and designs. For example, designs excluded include: Civil Air Ensign of Australia (1935), Royal Australian Air Force (1948), Royal Australian Navy (1967).







APPENDIX THREE:

THE NATIONAL FLAG:
EXTRACTS FROM GOVERNMENT DOCUMENTS




1) Commonwealth of Australia Gazette. 29 April 1901.
2) Parliamentary Debates. Senate. Hansards. 9 October 1901.
3) Parliamentary Debates. House of Representatives. Hansards. 27 November 1901.
4) Parliamentary Debates. House of Representatives. Hansards. 30 July 1902.
5) Commonwealth of Australia Gazette. 20 February 1903.
6) Parliamentary Debates. Senate. Hansards. 12 August 1903.
7) Commonwealth of Australia Gazette. 15 August 1903.
8) Parliamentary Debates. Senate. Hansards. 19 August 1903.
9) Commonwealth of Australia Gazette. 22 May 1909.
10) The Flags Act 1953-1973.




DOCUMENT NO. 1:
COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA GAZETTE.
29 APRIL 1901.




Commonwealth of Australia.
Prime Minister's Office,
29th April, 1901.

DESIGN FOR A FEDERAL FLAG.

The Government of the Commonwealth of Australia invite competitive designs for a Federal Flag, such designs to be forwarded by post or otherwise not later than the 31st May, 1901.

The designs will be judged by a Board to be appointed by the Federal Government for the purpose, and a sum of 75 will be paid to the designer of that selected as the best.

Each competitor will be required to forward two coloured sketches--one for the merchant service, and one for naval or official use--not less than 6 inches by 3 inches in size.

All designs must be indorsed on the cover "Commonwealth Flag," and must be addressed to "The Secretary to the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Australia, Melbourne."

Each design must bear a motto or nom de plume, and must be accompanied by a sealed envelope bearing on its face the motto or nom de plume with which the designer signed, and enclosing the name and address of the designer.

The successful design will be submitted to the Imperial authorities.

The award of the Board, however, will be final, and the prize will be given in accordance with their decision, even if the design be not accepted by the Imperial authorities.

EDMUND BARTON.




DOCUMENT NO. 2:
PARLIAMENTARY DEBATES. SENATE. HANSARDS.
9 OCTOBER 1901.




COMMONWEALTH FLAG AND SEAL.

Senator PEARCE asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council, upon notice--

1. Whether it is the intention of the Government to officially recognise the flag and seal to which prizes were awarded at the recent competitions as the flag and seal of the Commonwealth?

2. Before such recognition, will the Government give the Senate an opportunity to give an opinion as to the suitability of such flag and seal?

Senator O'CONNOR.-- In answer to the honorable senator, I have to say--

The Imperial Government, through the Secretary of State for the Commonwealth, requested this Government to suggest designs for the flag and seal. With the view of suggesting such designs, the recent competitions were held. The prize designs, and possibly others, will be forwarded to the Imperial Government. The final decision does not rest with the Commonwealth.




DOCUMENT NO. 3:
PARLIAMENTARY DEBATES. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. HANSARDS.
27 NOVEMBER 1901.




COMMONWEALTH FLAG.

Mr. CHAPMAN (for Mr. Crouch) asked the Prime Minister, upon notice--

1. Whether the Government has arrived at any decision as to the adoption of a Commonwealth flag?

2. If the flag chosen at the recent competition is to be adopted?

3. If the Australian flag, when selected, will fly as the national flag on the ships of the auxiliary squadron, and on all Australian forts?

Mr. BARTON.-- The answers to the honorable member's question are as follow:--

1 and 2. The Government is submitting for the consideration of the Right Honorable the Secretary of State for the Colonies, a flag, the design of which was sent in by five individuals at the recent competition, and between whom the prize of 75 is divided upon the recommendation of the judges. Also another design which met with the approval of the Naval Assessor to the Board of Judges.

3. I am not yet in a position to give an answer to this question.




DOCUMENT NO. 4:
PARLIAMENTARY DEBATES. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. HANSARDS.
30 JULY 1902.




AUSTRALIAN FLAG.

Mr. CROUCH asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice--

1. What is the present position of the Government's movement to establish a distinct Australian flag?

2. Has the Australian flag, selected by competition last year, been submitted to the British Government, and with what result?

3. Are there any reasons why the Government should not make the selection itself, without reference to outside authority?

Mr. DEAKIN.-- The answers to the honorable and learned member's questions are as follow:--

1 and 2. The flag approved by judges in the competition of last year was sent to England in December. No communication with reference to it has since been received.

3. A flag is a symbol of a Sovereign State. The selection was made at the request of the Imperial authorities. An unauthorized flag would not be recognised.




DOCUMENT NO. 5:
COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA GAZETTE.
20 FEBRUARY 1903.




Commonwealth of Australia.

Department of External Affairs,
Melbourne, 11th February, 1903.

His Excellency the Governor-General directs that it be notified for general information that His Majesty the King has approved of the subjoined design (see next page) for the Flag of the Commonwealth of Australia.

The Governor-General further directs the publication of the following copy of a "Miscellaneous" Despatch which has been received from the Right Honorable the Secretary of State for the Colonies on the subject.

EDMUND BARTON,
Prime Minister.


-----------------


[COPY.]


Commonwealth of Australia.
Miscellaneous.

Downing-street,
29th December 1902.


MY LORD,

With reference to my telegram of the 6th of October, I have the honour to transmit to Your Lordship fifteen copies of the drawings of the Flags of the Commonwealth and the Flag of the Governor-General as they will appear in the Admiralty Flag Book.

2. The State Flags should in general be flown only by State Governors or State Government Vessels. In the case of Merchant Vessels, the Commonwealth Flag alone should be used, but, perhaps, as a measure of convenience, merchant vessels might be allowed to continue to fly their State flags until the passing of a Commonwealth Navigation Act.

I have the honour to be,
My Lord,
Your Lordship's most obedient humble Servant,
(For the Secretary of State),
(Sgd.) ONSLOW.

Governor-General, His Excellency Lord Tennyson, K.C.M.G., &c., &c., &c.




DOCUMENT NO. 6:
PARLIAMENTARY DEBATES. SENATE. HANSARDS.
12 AUGUST 1903.




COMMONWEALTH FLAG.

Senator Lt.-Col. NEILD asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council, upon notice--

Is it intended to submit for the approval of Parliament the Commonwealth flag selected by the board appointed to judge the designs submitted for consideration?

Senator O'CONNOR.-- No; it is not intended to take the course suggested.

Senator Lt.-Col. Neild.-- The course promised!

Senator O'CONNOR.-- I do not think so.




DOCUMENT NO. 7:
COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA GAZETTE.
15 AUGUST 1903.




Commonwealth of Australia.

Department of External Affairs,
Melbourne, 8th August, 1903.

His Excellency the Governor-General directs the publication of the subjoined "Miscellaneous" Despatch of the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and enclosure, representing the Flag adopted as the Merchant Flag of the Commonwealth of Australia, to be flown by vessels registered in the Commonwealth.

EDMUND BARTON,
Minister of State for External Affairs.

-----------------
(COPY.)


Commonwealth of Australia.
(Miscellaneous.)

Downing-street,
24th June, 1903.

MY LORD,

With reference to my despatch "Miscellaneous" of 29th December last, I have the honour to transmit to Your Lordship a Warrant issued by the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty authorizing the Flag adopted as the Merchant Flag of the Commonwealth of Australia to be flown by vessels registered in the Commonwealth.

I have, &c.,
(Sgd.) J. Chamberlain.

Governor-General,
His Excellency Lord Tennyson, K.C.M.G., &c., &c., &c.

-----------------
(COPY.)


BY THE COMMISSIONERS FOR EXECUTING THE OFFICE OF LORD HIGH ADMIRAL OF THE UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND, &C.

Whereas His Majesty has been graciously pleased to approve of the adoption as the Merchant Flag of the Commonwealth of Australia of the Red Ensign of His Majesty's Fleet defaced as follows:--

In the centre of the lower canton next the staff, and pointing direct to the centre of the St. George's Cross in the Union Jack in the upper canton next the staff, a White Six-pointed Star, indicating the six Federated States of Australia, and in the fly five smaller White Stars, representing the Southern Cross;

And whereas by the seventy-third section of the Merchant Shipping Act 1894 it is provided that the Red Ensign usually worn by merchant ships, without any defacement or modification, shall be the proper National Colours for all ships and boats, and any other ship or boat for the time being allowed to wear any other National Colours in pursuance of a Warrant from His Majesty or from the Admiralty;

We do, by virtue of the power and authority vested in us, hereby warrant and authorize the Red Ensign of His Majesty's Fleet, defaced as stated above, to be used on board vessels registered in the Commonwealth of Australia.

Given under our hands and the seal of the Office of Admiralty this fourth day of June, 1903.

(Signed) J.A. FISHER.
J. DURNFORD.

By Command of their Lordships,
(Sd.) EVAN MACGREGOR.




DOCUMENT NO. 8:
PARLIAMENTARY DEBATES. SENATE. HANSARDS.
19 AUGUST 1903

.


COMMONWEALTH FLAG.

Senator HIGGS asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice--

1. Is it true, as stated in the press, that the Lords of the Admiralty have issued a warrant saying that "whereas His Majesty has been graciously pleased to approve of the adoption as the merchant flag of the Commonwealth of Australia of the red ensign of His Majesty's fleet, defaced by a six-pointed star on the lower canton next the staff, and by five smaller white stars in the fly, we do by virtue of the power and authority vested in us hereby warrant and authorize the red ensign of His Majesty's fleet, defaced as above stated, to be used on board vessels registered in the Commonwealth of Australia?"

2. Does not "deface" mean "to destroy or mar the face or external appearance of; to disfigure?"

3. Will the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia demand that the ships of the Australian Squadron shall use the Commonwealth of Australia flag?

Senator DRAKE.-- The answers to the honorable senator's questions are as follow:--

1. The Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty have issued a warrant to the effect stated. A copy of the warrant was published in the Gazette of the 15th inst.

2. "Deface" is believed to be a technical term used to describe the superimposition on the surface of the flag of any device.

3. The squadron is a squadron of the Navy of the Empire, and is expected to fly the flag which the rest of that Navy flies.

Senator HIGGS.-- Can the honorable Senator tell me in what dictionary I may find a definition of the term "defacing?"

Senator DRAKE.-- Probably in a heraldic dictionary, but I cannot speak positively.




DOCUMENT NO. 9:
COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA GAZETTE.
22 MAY 1909.



Department of External Affairs,
Melbourne, 6th May, 1909.

His Excellency the Governor-General directs the publication, for general information, of the subjoined despatch of the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and enclosure, respecting an alteration in the design of the Commonwealth Flag.

W.M. HUGHES.
Acting Minister of State for External Affairs.

-----------------

(Copy.)


Commonwealth of Australia.
MISCELLANEOUS.

Downing-street,
26th March, 1909.


MY LORD,

With reference to my despatch, "Miscellaneous," of the 27th of October last, I have the honour to transmit to your Excellency, for the use of your Government, amended drawings of the Ensign and Merchant Flag of the Commonwealth (see next page).

I have the honour to be,
My Lord,
Your Lordship's most obedient humble servant,
(Sgd.) CREWE.

Governor-General
His Excellency the Right Honorable
The Earl of Dudley, G.C.M.G., G.C.V.O., &c., &c., &c.




DOCUMENT NO. 10:
THE FLAGS ACT 1953-1973.



Section 8.
This Act does not affect the right or privilege of a person to fly the Union Jack.

FIRST SCHEDULE
THE AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL FLAG
1. The Australian National Flag is the British Blue Ensign, consisting of a blue flag with the Union Jack occupying the upper quarter next the staff, differenced by a large white star (representing the six States of Australia and the Territories) in the centre of the lower quarter next the staff and pointing direct to the centre of the St. George's Cross in the Union Jack and five white stars, representing the Southern Cross, in the fly, or half of the flag further from the staff. The descriptions and positions of the stars are in accordance with the following tables:

(Notes appended to the Act:)
"Date of commencement: 14 Apr 1954"
"This Act was reserved for Her Majesty's pleasure on 12 December 1953, the Queen's Assent was given on 14 February 1954 and was made known to each House of the Parliament on 15 February 1954. By a Proclamation dated 8 April 1954, the Queen's Assent was proclaimed in the Gazette on 14 April 1954 (see Gazette 1954, p. 1179)."







REFERENCES



(1) J. Mark Howard, Australian History and its Background, Shakespeare Head, Sydney, 1972, pp. 159-163. Suzanne Mellor (ed.), Australian History: The Occupation of a Continent, Eureka, Blackburn, 1978, pp. 257-258.

(2) Gordon Greenwood, Australia: A Social and Political History, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1955, pp. 181-193.
Howard, op. cit., p. 166.
Mellor, op. cit., pp. 258-263.

(3) Senate, Hansard, 9 October 1901, p. 5749.

(4) The Review of Reviews for Australasia, 20 October 1900, pp. 442-443.

(5) Frank Cayley, Flag of Stars, Rigby, Adelaide, 1966, pp. 97-98.
The Review of Reviews for Australasia, 20 April 1901, p. 378.

(6) Commonwealth of Australia Gazette, no. 27, 29 April 1901, p. 89.
The Review of Reviews for Australasia, 20 October 1900, pp. 442-443; 20 November 1900, pp. 571-572; 15 December 1900, pp. 701-702; 15 January 1901, p. 39-40.

(7) Cayley, op. cit., pp. 98, 102.
The Review of Reviews for Australasia, 20 September 1901, p. 244.

(8) A.G. Puttock, Heraldry in Australia, Child and Associates, Frenchs Forest, NSW, 1988, p. 120.
The Review of Reviews for Australasia, 15 January 1901, p. 40; 20 September 1901, pp. 242, 244, 246.

(9) Bede Nairn and Geoffrey Serle (general editors), Australian Dictionary of Biography, 1891-1939, Melbourne University Press, Carlton, 1981, Vol. 8, p. 447.
The Review of Reviews for Australasia, 20 October 1900, pp. 442-443; 20 August 1901, p. 128; 20 September 1901, p. 241, 243.

TWO COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS REGARDING THE FLAG COMPETITION:

1) Several publications have stated that there were seven judges, when there were only five. This mistake seems to have arisen from The Review of Reviews listing the seven names of the competition's "judges and officials" (20 September 1901, p. 241). The Review of Reviews gives the names of the five judges on p. 128 of its 20 August 1901 edition, and confirms their number on p. 241 of its 20 September 1901 edition. Mr J.S. Blackham, chief of staff of the Melbourne Herald, was the competition official "who superintended the classification and arrangement of the flags" for "when they were shown in Melbourne's Exhibition Building" (see The Review of Reviews, 20 August 1901, p. 127; 20 September 1901, pp. 241, 243, 244). Mr G. Stewart was another competition official (see The Review of Reviews, 20 September 1901, pp. 243); Frank Cayley has described Stewart as "an expert in heraldry".

Cayley, op. cit., p. 98.
Ivor Evans, "History of the Australian Flag", in Crux Australis: Journal of the Flag Society of Australia, Vol. 1/1 (June 2 1984), p. 37.
The Review of Reviews for Australasia, 20 August 1901, p. 127, 128; 20 September 1901, p. 241, 243, 244.
John C. Vaughan, "Australia's National Flag Competition", in Crux Australis: Journal of the Flag Society of Australia, Vol. 2/1, No. 7 (July 1985), p. 21-22.

2) Several publications have stated that a condition of the competition was that each entry had to have a Union Jack. In fact, neither the Government's competition rules, nor the Review of Reviews' competition rules, specifically asked for a Union Jack as a condition of entry (although any entry without one would be expected to have little chance of success).

However, many articles written on the 1901 flag competition have quoted the competition rules as stating that the design should "be based on the British ensigns ... signalling to the beholder that it is an Imperial union ensign of the British Empire".

There was no such competition rule. This error stems from Gwen Swinburne's 1969 book, Unfurled: Australia's Flag, in which she incorrectly attributes the above quote as a condition for the 1901 flag competition. She had apparently used a passage from Barlow Cumberland's 1909 book, History of the Union Jack and the Flag of the Empire, as the basis of her quote.

Barlow Cumberland, History of the Union Jack and the Flag of the Empire, William Briggs, Toronto, 1909, p. 289.
Crux Australis: Journal of the Flag Society of Australia, Vol. 8/3, No. 35 (July-September 1992), p. 141 (endnote 10).
G.H. Swinburne, Unfurled: Australia's Flag, Sirius Publications, Melbourne, 1969, p. 76.

Examples of this mistake:
June Cadzow, "Standard Debate Over the Ensign Raised Up Again", in The Australian, 26 January 1984.
Our Own Flag, (Ausflag pamphlet).
Henry Reynolds, "An Erstwhile Ensign", in Modern Times, June 1992, pp. 4-5.

(10) Commonwealth of Australia Gazette, no. 27, 29 April 1901, p. 89.
The Review of Reviews for Australasia, 20 September 1901, p. 244.

(11)House of Representatives, Hansard, 27 November 1901, p. 7837.

(12) A. C. Burton, "Australia's Forgotten Flag", in Crux Australis: Journal of the Flag Society of Australia, Vol. 8/3, No.36 (October-December 1992), pp. 169, 173-180.
Cayley, op. cit., pp. 93-95, 113-114.
Commonwealth of Australia Gazette, no. 8, 20 February 1903, p. 93.
John Christian Vaughan, Flags of Australia (wall chart), Standard Publishing, Rozelle, NSW, 1983.

(13) Cayley, op. cit., p. 115.
Commonwealth of Australia Gazette, no. 29, 22 May 1909, p. 1124.

(14) Cayley, op. cit., pp. 111-112.

(15)Cayley, op. cit., p. 111.

(16) Cayley, op. cit., pp. 97, 110.
The Children's Encyclopedia, The Educational Book Company, London, (1957-58?), Vol. 10, p. 6995.

(17) Cayley, op. cit., p. 115.
Parliamentary Handbook of the Commonwealth of Australia, AGPS, Canberra, 1984, p. 288.

(18) Cayley, op. cit., p. 111.

(19) Michelle Grattan, "Jones Flies the Flag for the Upside-Down Hundertwasser Design", in The Age, 30 April 1992, p. 3.

(20) The Review of Reviews for Australasia, 20 September 1901, p. 241.

(21) Flags Act 1953, First Schedule.
The fact that "The Australian National Flag is the British Blue Ensign" was clearly stated in the First Schedule of the Flags Act 1953, and left unaltered by the Flags Act 1953-1954 and the Flags Act 1953-1973. However, the Flags Amendment Act 1981 was used to specifically remove (or hide?) that information or wording.

Flags Act 1953
Flags Act 1953-1954
Flags Act 1953-1973
Flags Amendment Act 1981

(22) Burton, op. cit., p. 179.
Commonwealth of Australia Gazette, no. 27, 29th April 1901, p. 89.
Department of Administrative Services, op. cit., p. 6.

(23) Burton, op. cit., p. 179.
Commonwealth of Australia Gazette, no. 27, 29th April 1901, p. 89.
Department of Administrative Services, op. cit., p. 6.

(24) Burton, op. cit., p. 177-179.
Mimmo Cozzolino (ed.), Symbols of Australia, Penguin Books Australia, Ringwood, 1987, p. 26.
Vaughan, Flags of Australia, op. cit.

(25)Department of Administrative Services, op. cit., p. 7.

(26) Malcolm Booker, A Republic of Australia: What Would it Mean?, Left Book Club, Sydney, 1992, p. 22.
Cayley, op. cit., p. 117.
Peter Cotton, "Clash of Symbols", in The Age, 1st October 1994, Good Weekend magazine supplement p. 40.
Crux Australis: Journal of the Flag Society of Australia, Vol. 8/3, No. 35 (July- September 1992), p. 127.
Steve Duke, "The Union Flag", in Crux Australis: Journal of the Flag Society of Australia, Vol. 1/1 (June 2 1984), p. 30-31.
Don Petersen, "A Man Eager For War", in The Sunday Herald, 3rd September 1989, magazine supplement p. 26.
V. Wheller-Holohan, Flags of the World: Past and Present: Their Story and Associations, Frederick Warne, London, 1939, p. 51.

(27) Cumberland, op. cit., pp. 272, 289.

(28) Department of Administrative Services, op. cit., p. 7.
Flags Act 1953-1973.

(29) Donald Horne, "Symbols of a Nation", in Donald Horne (ed.), The Coming Republic, Pan Macmillan, 1992, p. 96.
Richard Kirby, "To Hang the Flag Or Fly It High?", in The Australian, 19 February 1992, p. 11.
Our Own Flag, (Ausflag pamphlet).

(30) Crampton, op. cit., p. 23.

(31) Harold Scruby and Brendan Jones, "Britain's Legacy Flies in the Face of Public Opinion", in The Age, 30 January 1997, p. A15.

(32) The Children's Encyclopedia, op. cit., Vol. 10, pp. 6981-6982, 6984.
Crampton, op. cit., pp. 26-29, 124-126, 131.
Christian Fogd Pedersen, The International Flag Book in Colour, Blandford, Dorset, 1977, pp. 20, 55, 84, 116, 120.
Whitney Smith, Flags Through the Ages and Across the World, McGraw-Hill, c1975, pp. 187, 291.
Mauro Talocci, Guide to the Flags of the World, Sidgwick and Jackson, London, 1982, pp. 87, 157, 175-176, 185, 196-197, 203, 205, 233, 245, 249, 251, 252-255. SL:D252471.

(33) Ron Tandberg, "Hurry! While Stocks Last ... A British Flag With Some Stars Tossed In" (cartoon), in Kaye Healey (ed.), Towards a Republic, The Spinney Press, Wentworth Falls, c1993, p. 20.

(34) Cayley, op. cit., pp. 18-19.
Crampton, op. cit., p. 23.
Puttock, op. cit., p. 119.
Smith, op. cit., p. 186.


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