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One flag, one day and one country…

By Emily Morris - 21 January 2015 57

Australia day stock

I must confess I hadn’t given a great deal of thought to the Australian flag until I returned to these shores in 2012. I found it very easy when out of Australia to have limited thought about our culture and heritage, and subsequent historical unease.

In London, I celebrated Australia Day like many other Aussies, in an Australian-themed pub drinking Fosters and listening to Men at Work and Cold Chisel (I hated Cold Chisel before leaving).

On return, I was prompted to think more often and more deeply about our national identity and about where I want to fit within that. In all honesty I was more proudly Australian abroad than when my feet were planted on local soil.

Living here, I am aware of the conflict. I am aware of the wrongs within our history. Were they my personal wrongs? No. Do I feel like I could do more to stand up for what I believe is right? Yes.

Like so many other countries, I believe our flag is currently being held hostage by parts of our society I do not wish to associate with; many who believe that to be proudly Australian is to shun other cultures, that being Australian involves being from a white, English-speaking background.

When I see the merchandise everywhere in the shops at the moment – everything from eskies to chip boxes brandished in the Australian flag – I can’t help but flinch slightly. We celebrate a day as Australia Day, which must cause deep-seated dislike and distrust in our indigenous population. We fly our flag and celebrate being Australian on a day of enormous injustice to the people who were here first. For so many reasons I would love to see us celebrate being Australians (from whichever journey we may have trodden) on a different day, and my inner republican would love to see us celebrate with a different flag (one that includes the more relevant Aboriginal symbol instead of the increasingly irrelevant British one).

My English husband reminds me that the same thing has happened in many countries. The ‘far right’ often sabotage national symbols to promote their causes. He reminds me that it is not for me to shun our flag for this reason alone, but to rewrite my associations with it and appreciate its role in our own history.

This Australia Day, I hope to see many locals from the original people (as says my young daughter who can’t fully pronounce the word aboriginal) through to the strong mix of diverse cultures that we now have living in Canberra, celebrating how lucky we are to be here and what a beautiful city it is.

Maybe one day we can get the day right and include a rightful and respectful historical emblem on our flag indicative of our countries true roots, but until then I sincerely hope Canberra enjoys a celebration of tolerance.

What’s Your opinion?


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57 Responses to
One flag, one day and one country…
Ghettosmurf87 4:02 pm 21 Jan 15

Mysteryman said :

Ghettosmurf87 said :

On the GG (Monarch) signing off on our laws, well, lets be perfectly honest, apart from the Whitlam kerfuffle, the GG has been nothing more than a rubberstamp. They do not actually wield and exercise the power that they technically have.

The power they have is exercised regularly. It’s called royal assent.

I would only consider that power to be actually exercised if the option not to provide assent was ever enacted. Otherwise they are simply a rubberstamp to meet the requirements in the constitution.

Mysteryman 3:57 pm 21 Jan 15

Ghettosmurf87 said :

On the GG (Monarch) signing off on our laws, well, lets be perfectly honest, apart from the Whitlam kerfuffle, the GG has been nothing more than a rubberstamp. They do not actually wield and exercise the power that they technically have.

The power they have is exercised regularly. It’s called royal assent.

gazket 3:52 pm 21 Jan 15

Tell the Aboriginals one flag one country.

If you see many who believe that to be proudly Australian is to shun other cultures your another fright bat.

Ghettosmurf87 3:46 pm 21 Jan 15

Mysteryman said :

Also, the Queen’s (or King’s) authority is a recognised part of our constitution. Talking about her like she is not relevant ignores the fact that our laws become laws when the GG, as a representative of the Crown, approves them.

Personally I think changing the flag for the sake of doing away with ties to the UK or the Monarchy is a waste of time unless we change our constitution and government first.

No assumption that having something aboriginal on the flag would be more relevant. I’d leave that up to the populace to decide. Personally I don’t think it’s necessary, though it might be a nice touch as one element if the flag chose to go down the path of having a number of symbols that are reflective of us as a nation. As would a nod to our British heritage as well.

I also agree that any changes to sever ties with the UK and the Monarchy should first been done through the constitution and government, with any flag change simply being a symbolic part of that transition.

On the GG (Monarch) signing off on our laws, well, lets be perfectly honest, apart from the Whitlam kerfuffle, the GG has been nothing more than a rubberstamp. They do not actually wield and exercise the power that they technically have.

Mysteryman 3:28 pm 21 Jan 15

Ghettosmurf87 said :

Mysteryman, another way to look at the removal of the Union Jack from our flag is to create a flag that properly symbolizes the Australia of today.

Now, what that might be is up for much vigorous debate, but I would suggest that for most Australians growing up in the past 30 years, that has not involved being a British subject or thinking of ourselves as a British colony.

The Queen is a foreign figurehead whose existence, choices and decisions have very little, if any real effect on Australia and our society. Australia is now it’s own nation, not a branch of another one and our flag should reflect that.

For that same reason, I can’t see how replacing the Union Jack with the Aboriginal flag would be the way forward, though I could see how it could be relevant to incorporate some sort of a native symbol into whatever we come up with in the future. That future being when we sever formal, constitutional ties with Britain and the British Monarchy.

A couple of things…

Firstly, I agree that removal of the Union Jack is not necessarily a bad idea. What I do think is a bad idea is the suggestion to replace it with something Aboriginal, especially under the assumption that it would be more relevant.

Secondly, the Union Jack represents a lot more than just the Queen. As I alluded to, so much of what Australia is now is owed to the British influence. It’s as much a historical element of this country as anything. It might not represent how a lot of people view themselves now, but it certainly represents our history and that which has greatly influenced us, as well as our ongoing membership in the Commonwealth. You say our flag should reflect that we are own own nation, and not a branch of another one, but I think that our flag accurately shows our current position – a self governing nation which is part of the Commonwealth.

Also, the Queen’s (or King’s) authority is a recognised part of our constitution. Talking about her like she is not relevant ignores the fact that our laws become laws when the GG, as a representative of the Crown, approves them.

Personally I think changing the flag for the sake of doing away with ties to the UK or the Monarchy is a waste of time unless we change our constitution and government first.

rosscoact 3:18 pm 21 Jan 15

Ghettosmurf87 said :

As for Dungfungus, way to cherry pick a single line out of the OP’s article. She was simply acknowledging that to some people, the date of Australia Day is less than a joyous one and would appear to be an odd one for them to celebrate being part of this great nation.

If you had bothered to read the full article and consider it as a whole, rather make your small-minded point, you’d have realized she is calling on people to embrace the many positives that being an Australian and living in our great country brings to our lives, rather than focusing on the negatives, the what ifs and the have nots.

Classic Dungers!

dungfungus 3:03 pm 21 Jan 15

Ghettosmurf87 said :

Mysteryman, another way to look at the removal of the Union Jack from our flag is to create a flag that properly symbolizes the Australia of today.

Now, what that might be is up for much vigorous debate, but I would suggest that for most Australians growing up in the past 30 years, that has not involved being a British subject or thinking of ourselves as a British colony.

The Queen is a foreign figurehead whose existence, choices and decisions have very little, if any real effect on Australia and our society. Australia is now it’s own nation, not a branch of another one and our flag should reflect that.

For that same reason, I can’t see how replacing the Union Jack with the Aboriginal flag would be the way forward, though I could see how it could be relevant to incorporate some sort of a native symbol into whatever we come up with in the future. That future being when we sever formal, constitutional ties with Britain and the British Monarchy.

That would mean we would not have the RSPCA and the RFDS anymore.

dungfungus 3:00 pm 21 Jan 15

Ghettosmurf87 said :

As for Dungfungus, way to cherry pick a single line out of the OP’s article. She was simply acknowledging that to some people, the date of Australia Day is less than a joyous one and would appear to be an odd one for them to celebrate being part of this great nation.

If you had bothered to read the full article and consider it as a whole, rather make your small-minded point, you’d have realized she is calling on people to embrace the many positives that being an Australian and living in our great country brings to our lives, rather than focusing on the negatives, the what ifs and the have nots.

“Maybe one day we can get the day right and include a rightful and respectful historical emblem on our flag indicative of our countries true roots……..”
At the risk of being accused of “cherry picking” again, read the bit I have quoted where the OP wants to change our flag because she doesn’t agree with the history most others subscribe to.
How is that going to be positive?
PS. It was the British who introduced the cherry tree to Australia. That was a positive.

Ghettosmurf87 2:38 pm 21 Jan 15

As for Dungfungus, way to cherry pick a single line out of the OP’s article. She was simply acknowledging that to some people, the date of Australia Day is less than a joyous one and would appear to be an odd one for them to celebrate being part of this great nation.

If you had bothered to read the full article and consider it as a whole, rather make your small-minded point, you’d have realized she is calling on people to embrace the many positives that being an Australian and living in our great country brings to our lives, rather than focusing on the negatives, the what ifs and the have nots.

Ghettosmurf87 2:34 pm 21 Jan 15

Mysteryman, another way to look at the removal of the Union Jack from our flag is to create a flag that properly symbolizes the Australia of today.

Now, what that might be is up for much vigorous debate, but I would suggest that for most Australians growing up in the past 30 years, that has not involved being a British subject or thinking of ourselves as a British colony.

The Queen is a foreign figurehead whose existence, choices and decisions have very little, if any real effect on Australia and our society. Australia is now it’s own nation, not a branch of another one and our flag should reflect that.

For that same reason, I can’t see how replacing the Union Jack with the Aboriginal flag would be the way forward, though I could see how it could be relevant to incorporate some sort of a native symbol into whatever we come up with in the future. That future being when we sever formal, constitutional ties with Britain and the British Monarchy.

dungfungus 2:20 pm 21 Jan 15

“We celebrate a day as Australia Day, which must cause deep-seated dislike and distrust in our indigenous population”
Absolute rubbish!
I know many indigenous people who see themselves as Australian only. The people they distrust are the parasites that divert government resources to keep the “reconciliation industry” alive. Most of us moved on from this many years ago.
It sounds to me like you will be wearing a black armband on Australia Day.

Mysteryman 1:06 pm 21 Jan 15

…the more relevant Aboriginal symbol instead of the increasingly irrelevant British one

Relevant to who? In terms of the Australian nation (which I might remind you did not exist 120 years ago), its governance, its economy, its social structure, its language, and nearly every aspect of what it currently looks like, the British Union Jack is far, far, far more relevant than an Aboriginal symbol. There’s no question of that. If you want a symbol of relevance on the flag, then replacing the Union Jack with anything else makes no sense. I’ve no doubt that most of the people calling to replace it with an Aboriginal symbol or colours have good motives, but it simply doesn’t reflect this nation, its founding, or its current state.

Maybe one day we can get the day right and include a rightful and respectful historical emblem on our flag indicative of our countries true roots…

And what exactly are those roots? Which parts of Aboriginal culture have shaped our current society so much more than British and English culture that we should change the flag accordingly? Don’t misunderstand me here – I think Australia’s (and the British before them) treatment of Aboriginal people was shameful, and damaging. But in my opinion, changing the flag as you suggest is little more than a token gesture of the collective guilt current generations carry for the sins of their forebears. It’s certainly not an idea that makes much sense outside of that.

Having spent quite a bit of time at the Tent Embassy around Australia Day (or Invasion Day as it was referred to) in past years, and listening to what any reasonable person would consider to be racially motivated hate speech from the speakers at those events, I can tell you that changing the flag won’t do anything to bridge the gap between peoples or to make things right (if that’s even possible).

chewy14 12:35 pm 21 Jan 15

On this Australia day I’ll dream of the day when we can do away with ridiculously divisive notions like “race” and “racial identity” as if they mean anything.

And there’s no real point debating the flag, anything you wish to change it to is going to be just as divisive as the current flag. How could you possibly come up with a symbol that represents this country’s “true roots”, whatever that means?
Anything that is developed isn’t going to represent the true history of this country, no one from that history is still alive to tell us what that true history is or was like. What you will end up with is a hodge podge of a symbol(s) that reflect what people think today and that represents people today. Are we going to change the flag every few hundred years? What exactly is our flag meant to represent?

switch 11:49 am 21 Jan 15

I just think about what my great-great-great-great-great-grandfather must have felt in Sydney Cove on the day.

Rollersk8r 10:49 am 21 Jan 15

I completely agree the flag has been hijacked by a young and ignorant minority – but I’m still sick and tired of the annual need to debate it – and the need to dwell on past injustices, each and every Australia Day.

I’m hardly a flag-waving (or flag-as-a-cape wearing) patriot – and the footage of people being forced to kiss the flag during the Cronulla riots was the amongst the most despicable and infuriating things I’ve ever seen in my life. I’m personally in favour of changing the flag but I think it’s in the too hard basket…

However – my point is to enjoy Australia Day for what it is – not for what it isn’t.

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