-- Copyright, Ross G. Paul, © 1995-2002.
This stunning flag is Ross' proposal for a new Australian National Flag. He first designed it in 1995, though he made early sketches back in 1992. The need for a new Australian flag was hotly debated through the 1990's in anticipation of Australia's Centenary of Federation in 2001. Whilst now partially dormant, the debate needs to continue and this is my contribution to the debate. See below for details on this proposed flag -- symbolism and detailed design (including dimensions).
Brief History of the Australian Flag
On 1 January 1901, the six colonies and their administrative territories joined together as a federation to form the nation of Australia, formally called the Commonwealth of Australia. The Commonwealth Government announced a Federal Flag design competition on the 29th April, 1901. The contest attracted 32,823 entries from men, women and children. On 3rd September 1901, a public ceremony was held at the Royal Exhibition Buildings, Melbourne, where Lady Hopetoun, wife of the Governor-General, opened a display of the entries in the competition. The Prime Minister of Australia, Edmund Barton, announced that five entrants, who had submitted similar designs, were to share the honour of being declared the designers of Australia's own flag. They were: Ivor Evans, a fourteen year old schoolboy from Melbourne; Leslie John Hawkins, a teenager apprenticed to a Sydney optician; Egbert John Nuttall, a Melbourne architect; Annie Dorrington, an artist from Perth and William Stevens, a ship's officer from Auckland New Zealand. You can click on their names to read more about them or you can go to the Australian National Flag Association website by clicking here.
The Aboriginal flag was recognised under Federal legislation, as was the Torres Strait Islanders' flag, in July 1995. The Aboriginal flag was first displayed on 12th July 1971, National Aborigines' Day, at Victoria Square in Adelaide. It was also used at the 'Tent Embassy' in Canberra in 1972. The Aboriginal Flag was designed by Indigenous Elder Harold Thomas in 1971. This flag symbolises Aboriginal identity. Yellow represents the sun (giver of life) and yellow ochre. Red represents the red earth (the relationship to the land) and the red ochre used in ceremonies. Black represents the Aboriginal people.
The Torres Strait Islander flag was created by the islander Bernard Namok in 1992. It is emblazoned with a Native Dancer's head-dress called a DARI and a five pointed star representing the five major island groups of the Torres Strait. The Blue centre symbolises the sea. The Green bars symbolises the island's lush vegetation. The Black stripes symbolises the local island people.
The Reason for Change
The strong emphasis on British colonial heritage is uncomfortable for many Australians -- especially the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who have adopted their own flags representing their own heritage. Many migrants over the generations also do not relate strongly to Australia's British colonial heritage, and in many cases have fought against it. Whilst contemporary Australian culture owes a lot to Australia's British colonial past, Australia is now arguably more diverse and vibrant from the variety of cultures it has embraced and which have become an important part of Australian life. What would Australia be without Aboriginal Art, Lygon Street cafes, Chinatown, etc.? As Australia and the world enter the 21st century and the third millenium, it is indeed timely for Australia to have a flag that carries the heritage of all its people.
Ausflag has actively promoted the debate for a new flag. Whilst many of the touted designs are simple and striking, some also feature complexities beyond the ability of a primary school child's ability to reproduce -- to me a key criteria for recognition. Further, some designs actively promote reconciliation between those who are descendants of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and those who have migrated here over the last two centuries and more. Unfortunately whist design elements of the Aboriginal flag have been incorporated, the Torres Strait Islander flag has been ignored.
This flag incorporates all the colours of the three main Australian flags - the Australian National flag, the Aboriginal flag and the Torres Strait Islander flag. From the bottom the flag incorporates the blue, green and black of the Torres Strait Islander (TSI) flag, the black, yellow and red of the Aboriginal flag and the red, white and blue of the national flag. In doing so it incorporates all six major colors used in flags around the world (red, white, blue, yellow, green and black) and shares this in common with recent "independence" flags such as South Africa (1993).
In the Canton position, the Southern cross is prominent and is deliberately angled as it is normally viewed from Australia. It is not squared as in many stylised flags. The "Federal"/"National" Star is prominent in the upper Fly position or second quarter and is retained, though relocated from the present national flag where it is in the third quarter or lower Hoist position. The seven points continue to represent the original six states and all the territories. A variation (right) would have the National Star coloured yellow to represent the sun shining on Australia by day with the Southern Cross shining above at night. Personally I believe that the National Star should remain white as it simplifies things visually and in many ways is more powerful.
In addition to the heritage this flag has in incorporating the colours from the present Australian National Flag, and the Aboriginal and TSI flags, the colours also have the following symbolism:
|Sky Blue||The sky above, beautiful during the day and stunning at night|
|White||The horizon when the sun rises|
|Red||The desert at our heart|
|Yellow||Agriculture at the core of our economy and beaches where we relax|
|Black||Cities (roads) and towns where we live and our rich mineral resources|
|Green||The forests and beautiful environmental heritage for which we are custodians|
|Sea Blue||The sea and its rich bounty which surrounds our island home|
The lines are of different widths deliberately. The sky is takes the top half of the flag and prominently displays our national symbols of the Southern Cross and the National Star. Along with the sky, the sea is a powerful and dominant force in our national heritage -- environmentally, socially, and economically. Also people and all our imports and exports travel by air or by sea, so it is appropriate that they are both prominent and embrace the land represented by the smaller coloured stripes. Our environment is a key to our past and our future and therefore green is double width. Further, as the TSI flag has two bands of green and one of blue, it is appropriate for green to be double width.
The progression of colours also allows for a 3D view of Australia as seen from the sea or the air as would be experienced by new migrants as they approach, or residents returning home from holidays (or business) -- the sea, the land, the cities, the farms, the desert, the horizon all under a big sky.
The flag is a 3:2 ratio flag. In a dimension ratio of 450:300 units the vertical lines are the following width
|Sky Blue||180 units|
|Sea Blue||60 units|
The "National Star" is a seven pointed star with a bounding box size of 100 units square. It is located with its centre at position horizontal 300 and vertical 100.
The Southern Cross is composed of four seven pointed stars and one five pointed star. The "Crowning Star" at the top is 40% of the size of the National Star and the remaining three seven pointed stars are 30% of the size of the National Star. The small five pointed "Companion Star" is in a bounding box size of 20 units square. The centre points of the stars of the Southern Cross are as follows
|"Crowning Star"||80 units||30 units|
|Left Cross Star||35 units||55 units|
|Right Cross Star||100 units||80 units|
|"Companion Star"||80 units||105 units|
|Lower Star||35 units||150 units|
Traditionally a flag is made up of a number of parts:
Hoist - The half of the flag nearest to the halyard (that is the rope by which a flag is raised and lowered).
Fly - The half of the flag farthest from the halyard.
Canton - The place of honour in a flag is the upper half of the hoist. It is also called the First Quarter and sometimes the Upper Hoist. It is an appropriate place to highlight a national icon or symbol such as the Southern Cross.
Second Quarter - The upper half of the fly.
Third Quarter - The lower half of the hoist. It is also called the Lower Hoist.
Fourth Quarter - The lower half of the fly.
© 1995-2002. Design is copyright, Ross G. Paul. All Rights Reserved. Design components copyrighted include, but are not limited to, (i) colour progression in any order, any width and any shade of blue, green, black, yellow, red, white and blue; (ii) size, colour and position of all the stars with respect to each other, the size and proportions of the flag, and the other elements of the flag; and, (iii) angled presentation of the Southern Cross.