MEDIA RELEASE

Monday 25 January 1999

Background

In June 1997, members of the Design Institute of Australia, the Australian Graphic Design Association, the Royal Australian Institute of Architects, Australian Writers and Art Directors, the Australian Textile Design Association, the Flag Society of Australia and the Society of Interior Designers of Australia were invited by Ausflag to enter the abovementioned Competition. Over 2,500 entries were received.

The Competition and Exhibition was sponsored by Apple Computer Australia, Salmat, Fuji Xerox Australia, John Holland Industries and Flash Graphics.

In October 1997, seven judges, representing the following organisations, chose the best 100 designs.

The Design Institute of Australia
The Australian Graphic Design Association
The Royal Australian Institute of Architects
The Australian Textile Design Association and the Society of Interior Designers of Australia
Indigenous Australians
The Flag Society of Australia
Ausflag Limited

Since that time, these designs (including nine Ausflag designs) have been on exhibition at: the Art Gallery of Western Australia, the Museum of Sydney, the National Gallery (Canberra), the Brisbane Town Hall, the Art Gallery of South Australia, the Melbourne Town Hall and several regional galleries. At every location, it has received extraordinary patronage and interest. Visitors to the Exhibition were asked to nominate their three favourite designs. The results of the People′s Choice will be formally announced on Australia Day 1999.

When the Exhibition was opened in Canberra in early 1998, it was attended by many prominent people including the Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon Tim Fischer and the Speaker, the Rt Hon Ian Sinclair.

The 100 designs have been reproduced in colour in the Sydney Morning Herald, the Adelaide Advertiser, The Age and the Courier Mail. Ausflag′s Internet site has received over 2.5 million hits since the launch in late January. The Exhibition will also be on display and a focal point at "Design 99", a bi-annual international design convention to be held at Darling Harbour in Sydney in 1999.

Legislation protecting the Australian flag was proclaimed in November 1997. It requires that the flag cannot be changed without a plebiscite of the Australian people and that of the designs presented to the Australian people, the current flag must be one of the options.

It is therefore reasonable to expect that in the not too distant future, as with the Republic, Australians will be asked to choose whether they want a new flag or they wish to retain the current flag. Ausflag′s objective is to ensure that the best possible designs are available to enable all Australians to make an informed decision.

Ausflag supports the balanced approach stated recently by the Prime Minister, the Hon John Howard: "I am not in favour of a change, I see no argument for a change, I have never seen a flag which comes anywhere near approaching the Australian flag. But he said he welcomed debate on such symbols and the flag would change if that was the will of the people."

However, the latest opinion polls conducted by both Roy Morgan and AC Nielsen reveal that an absolute majority of Australians want a new design for the Australian flag.

There are two sections to the judging process:

  1. The People′s Choice (to be announced Australia Day 1999)
  2. The Judges′ Choice (to be announced first quarter 1999)

The judges will then work with the designers of these flags and endeavour to finally create three designs which can be presented to the Government in order that they may be used in a Plebiscite alongside the current flag, at which the Australian people can decide which design they wish to fly over Australia in the next millennium.