23 August 2019

Committee urges ACT Government to replace 'anachronistic' Coat of Arms

| Lachlan Roberts
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Should be this the ACT's new coat of arms? Proposed coat of arms designed by Steven Squires.

Should this be the ACT’s new coat of arms? This proposed coat of arms was designed by Steven Squires. Image: Supplied.

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”.

Canberra Coat of Arms

Canberra’s current Coat of Arms. File photo.

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.”

Ivo Ostyn suggested this new Coat of Arms. Image: Supplied.

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.

Click here to read the full report.

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This is so low on the priority list of things to do, how much is this costing? Also how much will the updates to buildings, websites, stationery, vehicles etc cost? Further proof of an out of touch government!!

Capital Retro8:28 pm 24 Aug 19

Government agencies etc. consider a name change as great progress. It necessitates forming committees, having meetings and all the other nonsense that they go on with. They do it well.

Capital Retro10:33 am 24 Aug 19

The one designed by Steven Squires looks like something one would find at a Masonic Lodge.

Veceslav Stanuga8:21 pm 23 Aug 19

Is this another ploy by the king Barr trying to set up his own empire? This idea is totally disrespectful to the founding fathers , the original has strength and power and a reminder of the principles that are the foundation of a free and unified state. The proposed version looks week and childish.

HiddenDragon8:14 pm 23 Aug 19

The swans are fierce, keep them – they’re preferable to imagery which is a less stylish version of what featured on the old one dollar note. The motto could change to “For The People”.

If we’re seriously interested in changing things which are “archaic” and “anachronistic”, the real target should be the ACT’s “we always know best”, command and control style of government which is a relic of the (previous) Cold War era.

Capital Retro6:11 pm 23 Aug 19

…surmounted by three large gold balls of style of those found outside a pawn shop.

Stephen Saunders5:24 pm 23 Aug 19

As a true patriot, I cannot tolerate an image that valorises the queen. The same dude that’s locked us out of our own archives till 2027, and counting.

With Bad Scotty fiercely opposed to anything that comes after 1955, here’s another too-easy opportunity for the ACT to look progressive.

I agree the current Canberra coat of arms is a heraldic obscenity and unrepresentative of the city we live in today. A new coat of arms should show:
– a tram rampant and assurgent,
– rates rising,
– an apartment leaking
on a shield supported by a property developer sinister and a blind-folded politician passant with forked tongue.

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