Canberra looks set for a brand new Coat of Arms after a report urged the ACT Government to either design a new Coat of Arms or update the current “anachronistic” and “archaic” one.
The ACT’s 91-year-old Coat of Arms, which actually represents the City of Canberra instead of the whole territory, features a castle which represents the “dignity, importance and grandeur of Canberra as a city” and two swans which represented “Australia’s white and Indigenous populations”.
The Standing Committee on Environment and Transport, which was tasked to investigate what rules and protocols apply when designing a new coat of arms for the ACT, handed down its final report on Thursday (22 August), with a resounding push for a new design.
The Committee received 68 submissions on whether the Territory should adopt a new coat of arms, with nearly 80 per cent of submissions calling for change.
The committee said the major theme running through most submissions was that the current Coat of Arms does not reflect the ACT’s history, people and geography, with contributors suggesting that the symbolism of the current design is “anachronistic” and “unreflective of the ACT in the 21st Century”.
Ivo Ostyn, who designed the current ACT flag, told the Committee that the Coat of Arms current design was “irrelevant”.
“If you look at the current city coat of arm, they do not speak to me,” Mr Ostyn said. “I find them irrelevant in many ways. A castle! Honestly, a castle, a sword, crowns, a mace and a portcullis. Are these really symbols of the ACT? I do not think so.”
Another submission suggested the removal of all reference to the crown, monarch, queen or the UK in the coat of arms, including the current motto which reads – “For the Queen, the law, and the people”.
“There is so little typical of Australian sentiment embodied in the original design,” the submission read. “The flag instead embodies Old-world Lords, aristocratic imagery of crowns, castles, portcullis, swords and maces.”
As part of the community consultation, contributors also suggested design elements they would like to see included in a new Territory coat of arms with the royal bluebell proving to be a popular feature.
Other popular elements were the southern brush-tail rock wallaby, the gang-gang cockatoo and Indigenous symbols including crossed boomerangs or an Aboriginal shield in the red, black and yellow of the Aboriginal flag.
Chair of the Committee, Suzanne Orr, said it was clear from the submissions that the current Coat of Arms needs to be updated.
“Canberrans want to see symbols that better reflect our modern and inclusive community and this report provides the Government with a clear pathway to make the necessary changes,” Ms Orr said.
Ms Orr said the Committee also received evidence that the ACT Flag, which depicts a modified version of the City of Canberra Coat of Arms, is problematic from a range of perspectives. The report recommended that the ACT Government heed the “widespread displeasure” with the flag and design a new one with community consultation.