//
you're reading...
Australian History

On This Day In Australia: In 1901, the Flag of Australia and Australian Red Ensign were adopted by the Government of Australia as official flags


Australian Flag

On 3 September 1901. the Flag of Australia and Australian Red Ensign were adopted by the Government of Australia as official flags, following a national design competition. The flag was first flown from the Royal Exhibition Building, Melbourne.

Australia′s first ′Federal′ flag was chosen from a national flag competition held in 1901. Initially started by the Melbourne monthly magazine The Review of Reviews for Australasia, the new Federal Government announced a further competition (Gazetted 29 April 1901) and the earlier competition entries were transferred and the prize was increased to 200 pounds. The competition attracted 32 823 entries.

The entry rules for the private competition were highly suggestive and the judging and approval process were such that only a British Ensign with a badge representative of Australia was likely to be a winner.

When the winning flag design was chosen, a review of the entries revealed that five people submitted almost identical designs. These people were declared joint winners and shared the prizemoney. They were:

  • Annie Dorrington, Artist, Perth (1866-1926)
  • Ivor Evans, Student, Haymarket, Melbourne (1888-1960)
  • Leslie Hawkins, Student, Leichhardt, Sydney (1883-1966)
  • Egbert Nuttall, Architect, Prahran, Melbourne (1866-1963)
  • William Stevens, Steamship Officer, Auckland, New Zealand (1866-1928)

Australia′s first Prime Minister, Edmund Barton, announced the winning design in Melbourne on 3 September 1901. The design had a mixed reception and caused some controversy at the time, on aesthetic grounds as much as its Anglophile nature. The Australian Natives′ Association in particular felt that it was unsuitable or insufficiently patriotic.

The original design was similar to the current flag, except the Federation Star contained only 6 points and the Southern Cross was represented by stars ranging from 5 to 9 points to indicate their relative apparent brightness in the night sky. Also, the field was red for Civil use, with the blue ensign being reserved for Government use only.

The adoption of the winning flag design was never debated in the Australian Parliament – it was sent to the Imperial Authorities in England to be approved. It wasn′t until late 1902 that King Edward VII formally notified the Australian Government of the approval, and this approval was finally Gazetted on 20 February 1903.

The original design has been changed three times since 1901. First, in 1903 the design was changed so that all but the smallest star in the Southern Cross had seven points, ostensibly to improve the ease of manufacture. In 1906 Australia acquired the Territory of Papua, and to indicate this the number of points on the Federation Star was increased to seven in 1908. This second design change was Gazetted on 22 May 1909.

When the Northern Territory and ACT were created as Federal Territories in 1911, the number of points on the Federation Star was not increased and remained at seven. The red ensign remained the Civil flag and the blue ensign the Government flag.

However, the flag still had no legal status beyond the original British Admiralty authorisations which only related to use at sea. It wasn′t until the Flags Act 1953 (enacted 1954) was passed by the Menzies Government that Australia finally had an official national flag, and one that was required to be flown in a superior position to any other national flag (including the Union Flag).

The Flags Act 1953 formally adopted the current design as Australia′s “National Flag” and the Act was assented to by Queen Elizabeth II on her first visit to Australia on 15 April 1954, the first Act of the Australian Parliament to receive assent by the Monarch rather than the Governor General. Finally, more than 53 years after the first design was hoisted, Australia had an official national flag.

The Australian flag was usually flown in conjunction with, often in an inferior position to, the Union Flag of the UK well into the 1960s despite the requirements of the Flags Act 1953. Many Australians considered themselves to be Britons, and Arthur Smout in his 1968 The Flag Book lamented the fact that many seemed to show more loyalty to the Union Flag than to the Australian flag.

Today, there is a growing debate about whether Australia should adopt a new flag, as many see the current British ensign-based design as inappropriate in an increasingly multicultural country that has been progressively weakening its ties with Britain since 1901. Also, the Union Flag occupies what is known as the vexillological honour point, and as Australia becomes more independent, many think Australian symbols rather than the flag of another nation should occupy this position.

Source: Ausflag

About Craig Hill

Teacher and Writer. Writing has been cited in New York Times, BBC, Fox News, Aljazeera, Philippines Star, South China Morning Post, National Interest, news.com.au, Wikipedia and others.

Discussion

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

If you liked what you just read, click "Subscribe" to become a follower of the Craig Hill site. You will receive an email each time a new post is published.

Join 15,050 other followers

An archive of all my old posts

Follow me on Twitter

Most Recent Posts Post on My Blog About China: China News

Cadence Column: Asia, January 17, 2022

Cadence Column: Asia, January 17, 2022

China is illegal. The US Department of State even says so. France even reports as such. This won’t exactly improve friendly relations across the Pacific. It’s actually a much larger step to an all out conflict. Just over a year ago, November 2020, Western allies declared that China’s 1984 treaty with Britain, the basis for […]

India’s offensive against China should be in the grey zone 

India’s offensive against China should be in the grey zone 

Grey zone is not a fixed concept but a hypothetical place between peace and war. While I was writing this article, a never heard of development was taking place in the Indian state of Punjab. The Indian Prime Minister was stuck on a bridge for 20 minutes since the highway was blocked by the protesters. […]

Cadence Column: Asia, January 10, 2022

Cadence Column: Asia, January 10, 2022

Lithuania has become the “Taiwan of Europe”. Since WWII, Americans never again struggled with the concept that a problem abroad is a problem at home. This is how we Americans can vote to interfere around the world that we know so little about. We think every squeal from another continent indicates a personal assault on […]

Is China ready to host the Winter Olympics?

Is China ready to host the Winter Olympics?

Chinese officials have promised that the 2022 Winter Olympics — to be held Feb. 4 to 20 and followed by the Paralympics March 4-13 — will be a “safe, streamlined and splendid” global event. But that won’t be easy. With less than four weeks to go, China is struggling to enforce its strict zero-covid policy […]

Crystal Gazing 2022: India and The World 

Crystal Gazing 2022: India and The World 

If we thought 2019 and 2020 presented uncertainties then 2022 is here to surprise all of us. It could be remembered as one of the most complex, unpredictable, and potentially dangerous years in the recent past. COVID-19, oil crossing $100/barrel, Iran-US nuclear talks, Iran-Israel tension, artificial intelligence, big data analytics, cryptocurrency, and militarization of outer […]

Japan looks west to guard against a rising China

Japan looks west to guard against a rising China

Japan signed on Thursday a new security treaty with Australia, a fellow middle power that is similarly aligning against an increasingly assertive China. The blandly-branded Reciprocal Access Agreement, which was signed virtually by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, marks the conclusion of a process that started in 2014, when […]

Cadence Column: Asia, January 3, 2022

Cadence Column: Asia, January 3, 2022

Taiwan is on the rise. With chip shortages, stock is booming. You know how graphics cards are astronomically high? A lot of that money is going into Taiwan. Meanwhile, China found an excuse to order a real estate developer to demolish 39 freshly, new-built “luxury apartments”—something about the building permit being illegal and violated zoning. […]

Cadence Column: Asia, December 27, 2021

Cadence Column: Asia, December 27, 2021

Japan is on the scene in the Pacific. While Japanese athletes will attend the Olympics, Japanese officials will not. China doesn’t want Japan to “politicize” the games. But, consider 2008, the one-hour opening ceremony about nothing but China’s history, with President Xi marching in to a one-world dream at the end. For Beijing, hosting the […]

Cadence Column: Asia, December 20, 2021

Cadence Column: Asia, December 20, 2021

The US is hitting China hard over treatment of Uyghurs. Nearly all imports from Xinjiang will be banned. At the same time, the US bolsters the call to bolster Taiwan’s military defense. However, Taiwan has the seeds of the same tyranny; it just doesn’t materialize into anything alarming because Taiwan remains small. The most obvious […]

When India goes to war with China 

When India goes to war with China 

It is an open secret that China challenges everything India sets its eyes on, be it cooperation with Quad partners (the United States, Australia, Japan), international organizations like United Nations, WHO, or designating a terrorist organization. India, a Quad member and a close ally of the United States, has become the biggest eyesore for China. […]

%d bloggers like this: