Flag of Australia

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The flag of Australia

The flag of Australia is a national flag. In 1901, Australia became a single country, instead of six separate colonies. A competition was held to design a new flag for the new country. The winning flag has a blue background, the Union Jack, and six stars. Five stars are in the shape of the constellation the Southern Cross, the other is the Commonwealth Star. The flag has been used from 1903, but did not become the official flag of Australia until 1953.[1]

Competition[change | change source]

On 29 April 1901, some private companies with the support of the Australian Government set up a competition to design a new flag for Australia.[1] The prize money was ₤200 including ₤75 from a magazine and ₤50 from a tobacco company.[1] There were 32,823 designs entered into the competition.[1] These were put on show in Melbourne at the Royal Exhibition Building. The judges, from the army, navy, merchant navy, and pilot service, to choose the best flag were:

  • Captain Clare of HMS Protector
  • Captain Edie, Superintendent of Navigation, Sydney
  • Captain J.A. Mitchell, from the Victorian Pilot service
  • Lieutenant Thompson, from HMS Katoomba
  • Mr.J.W. Evans, Member of the House of Representatives from Tasmania.

The judges took eight days to choose a winning flag.[2]

Five flags were almost the same, and they shared first prize. The Prime Minister of Australia, Edmund Barton, announced the winners on 3 September 1901.[2] The winners were:[3]

The winning flag was flown from the top of the Exhibition Building. The Prime Minister Edmund Barton wrote to the Governor-General to get approval from the King for the new flag. This was officially announced on February 20, 1903.[3]

The flag[change | change source]

Some of the winning flags had different numbers of points on the stars of the Southern Cross. This was simplified to seven points for the four largest stars and five for the small one. The Commonwealth Star had six points for the six states. This was the design in 1903. In 1912, an extra point was added to the Commonwealth Star for the Territories of Australia.[3]

Australian Red Ensign

In 1934, the government published how the Australian flag should be made. The flag of the United Kingdom, the Union Jack was still the official flag in Australia until 1954. By law, only the Australian government was allowed to fly the blue Australian flag.[1] Everyone else that wanted to use an Australian flag used the red one, called the Red Ensign. In 15 March 1941, the Prime Minister of Australia, Robert Menzies, gave permission for the blue flag to be used on public buildings, schools and by the public. Australian ships would use the Red Ensign.

In 1954, the Australian Flag became the official Australian National Flag.[4] The Australian flag is the most important flag flown in Australia, and must be given more importance than flags from other countries. When it is raised or lowered people should face the flag and not talk. It should only be used properly, for example, it can not be used to cover a table or a seat, and it can not be allowed to touch the ground.[1]

Other Australian flags[change | change source]

Royal Australian Navy flag
Royal Australian Air Force flag
Flag of the Governor General

The Royal Australian Navy has had its own flag from 1 March 1967.[1] This looks like the national flag but has a white background with blue stars, called the Australian White Ensign. The Royal Australian Air Force got its own flag in 1949. This was changed in 1981 to feature a red kangaroo.[1]

The Queen of Australia has her own flag for use when she visits Australia. The Governor-General of Australia also has a flag which is flown from his or her official house and from his or her car.

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Castles, Ian (1989). Year Book Australia 1989. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics. pp. 35-37. ISBN 03124746.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Foley, Carol A. (1996). The Australian Flag: Colonial Relic or Contemporary Icon. The Federation Press. ISBN 1862871884.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "Flags". Australian Encyclopaedia IV. (1958). Angus and Robertsom. 95-96. 
  4. History of the Australian national flag (Part 4). Flagspot. Accessed 6 November 2008.