A PERENNIAL provocation has reappeared ahead of Australia Day, with a Sydney academic peddling second-rate designs for a new Australian flag. There is nothing wrong with the flag, which offends only those wont to trash tradition and deny Australia’s British heritage. The designs are hideous, poorly executed, and exude the talent of a child. They look like third world flags, or those of banana republics, and merit neither support nor sanction.
This morning’s article is a bit of a diversion; I have been writing a more comprehensive piece on the machinations going on inside the NSW division of the Liberal Party at present and their potential consequences for the Liberal Party nationally, and this will appear (I hope) later today or this evening; like our analysis of the Abbott government and its impact on Australian conservatism a couple of weeks ago, this is set to be a lengthy essay, and for reasons of the time involved is taking longer than I envisaged to cover the ground intended.
But my usual perusal of the news portals over coffee today has thrown up an “issue” that resurfaces with monotonous regularity at this time of year, and one which really does boil my blood; Sydney’s Daily Telegraph is reporting that University of Western Sydney academic Benjamin Jones has been tarting six very ordinary designs around for a “new Australian flag,” with this nonsense being trotted out under the guise of gauging support for attitudes toward the flag and to how people “would feel if it was changed.”
Mr Jones — who states he is “a democrat” — says a survey he is running has elicited “about 2,000 responses,” which I can only say represents well under one hundredth of one percent of the Australian population, and can be ignored.
Readers can access his presentation of “Six Credible Alternatives to the Australian Flag” and view the hideous items on his shortlist here, and access his survey through that link: and having done the survey myself I should note that anyone who doesn’t want to nominate one of the ghastly designs on show as their “favourite” doesn’t have to — the survey will still log a result to Mr Jones even with no vote cast for any of the designs.
But really, this tired old charade needs to be put out to pasture.
It annoys me (and infuriates millions of Australians) that the flag — like an Australian republic, or reserved seats in Parliament for Aborigines, or crucifying men to tokenise women with quotas, or any of the other utterly useless symbols the anti-establishment Left in this country aspires to — is a perennial provocation trotted out any time the date 26 January looms on the calendar; there is nothing wrong with the flag we have, which in any case represents the past (the Union Jack), the present (our location beneath the Southern Cross) and, I contend, the future (represented by the Federation Star in the lower left-hand quadrant of the flag).
There are those with an insatiable appetite for disowning Australia’s political, social and cultural heritage (which, whether they like it or not, is British: and still applies directly to almost 80% of the people living here) who are determined to trash just about everything associated with it in the interests of making statements from a narrow doctrinaire position that carries little real enthusiasm among the public at large.
The anti-UK lobby, so far as I am concerned, can tell its story walking; I may be an Anglophile, but my outlook is more internationalist than “British to the bootstraps,” and to me, the question is one of tradition, respect for established institutions, and to be blunt, having a flag that doesn’t look like the work of kindergarten miscreants or of design software gone rogue.
I’m not going to rehash — for now — every argument attached to the “Keep our Flag Forever” campaign, running as they do through everything from alleged insults to military personnel who served under the flag (or, in acknowledging the pedants, I would add “or variants of the flag”) to a perceived determination to trash the symbols of the Australian tradition under the pretence of having something “truly Australian” to show the world: rather, my focus today is primarily on the hideous options being pimped as potential Australian flags, although I think readers know I am flatly opposed to any change in this area at all.
Sometimes “new” does not equate to “better;” change simply for the sake of having change is, in my view, a waste of time, energy (and in this case) money.
Over recent decades, official logos of everything from government departments to city and shire councils and to major corporations have been changed from their original forms under the auspices of being hip, or contemporary, or modern; traditionalist as I may be, the results of these endeavours are almost invariably tacky, cheap-looking, and — ironically, when much of this sort of drivel is motivated by ridiculous cultural cringing on the part of so-called “elites” — utterly cringeworthy.
A good example of what I’m talking about is the change over 20-ish years in the logo for the City of Melbourne: see below.
The reason I use the City of Melbourne as an example (and to be sure, I could have selected from hundreds of equally unpalatable other options) is to make the point, before we rip into Jones’ repulsive selection of flag designs, that just changing things for the hell of it does not automatically equate to improving things: far from it.
The only design I’ve ever seen for a replacement Australian flag that even comes close to acceptable in my view is a simple substitution of the Union Jack for the Australian Coat of Arms. Even then, the disrespect and disregard for history, tradition and the symbols of nation is just too much for me (and a lot of folk far less conservative than I am) to stomach.
But that design is positively flushed with good sense and taste, compared to those being trundled out by Jones this time.
One — the Eureka flag — shouldn’t ever be under consideration at all; as much as the Eureka Stockade was a seminal moment in the evolution of the former component colonies toward a sovereign country, it has been hijacked by the trade union movement and other fringe groups and is, objectively, far too partisan and polarising to ever be acceptable as a symbol of national unity.
The obligatory sop in one of them to the Aboriginal lobby is out of line; in a country of immigrants, the Aboriginal people migrated to what is now Australia as well, albeit well before European settlement: and far from dismissing their significance or belittling their importance, this country already pays its original inhabitants adequate respect with acknowledgement at just about every ceremony held in Australia as the “traditional owners” of whatever piece of land it occurs on, a trend to name just about everything new after Aboriginal figures, in billions of dollars every year in recurrent spending on Aboriginal health, welfare, communities, and in pursuit of “reconciliation” (which I suspect will never be “achieved” no matter what resources are thrown at it: there is too much of an industry that depends on “reconciliation” remaining a distant pipe dream to risk allowing it to be “achieved”).
As for the rest of them, they look like the kind of thing a hillbilly dictator in a third world country or some despot in a banana republic might proclaim as the emblem of their petty dunghill; they look cheap, tawdry, and are an insult to the notions of national spirit, national unity, and the aspirations of the people who are intended to live under them.
Whoever “designed” the “Golden Wattle” eyesore is just a bit too clever for their own good; obviously motivated by the Canadian precedent of using a symbol all Canadians could find common ground with, the notion that wattle is some Australian equivalent is debatable, to say the least. Even so, a few yellow splotches do not convey to anyone that they are supposed to be wattle flowers; and the fashioning of these paint stains to form the Federation Star at their epicentre looks like the very cheap, very amateurish attempt to be solemnly cognisant of occasion that it is.
Without labouring the point any further, it is sufficient to say these are terrible. It is just a pity that the likeliest people to express any opinion on them at all are those unconcerned with anything beyond the systematic junking of the icons and symbols that derive from our history — our actual history, not the revisionist bullshit these people seek to foster — and that’s a very great shame.
It is well and good that New Zealand has engaged in a flag debate recently that will soon reach a final resolution through a public vote. Good for it.
Here in Australia, we are more than capable of making our own decisions, on our own terms, and in our own time. Just because New Zealand has gone down the path of investigating a change to their flag does not mean that we should, too.
Besides, there are more important things to tackle in Australia at present.
I just wonder where the enthusiasm of those who would discard symbols like the flag for the “feelgood factor” it might deliver to them lies when it comes to questions of economic reform, electoral reform, industrial reform, or even an overhaul of the Commonwealth itself.
This is a great country, but it has its problems; right now, those problems are increasing. For once, I’m not going to get into a Liberal vs Labor diatribe over them. But unless these real issues are fixed, with some urgency, and within the next few years as opposed to the next few decades, then arguing over a bloody flag will be the least of Australia’s concerns.
Let’s forget about the perpetual furphy of a “flag debate” and worry about things that really matter, and which can improve the lives of ordinary people in a practical sense.
The last thing Australia needs is some third world flag to confirm its immaturity to the rest of the world. There is no need for any of Jones’ designs to ever see the light of day again, and nor should they.