MEDIA RELEASE

Wednesday 23 April 1997

Ausflag Calls on the RSL to "Come Clean" about the Australian Flag on Anzac Day

The Executive Director of Ausflag, Mr Harold Scruby, has today called upon the RSL to formally concede that generally, Australians did not fight and die under the Australian flag as we now know it (see attached Australian Flag Mythology colour brochure). He said:

  1. "The vast majority of Australian servicemen and women who served in the First and Second World Wars, served principally under the Union Jack, then the Australian Red Ensign and the former Naval and Airforce Ensigns. The Australian Blue Ensign (which is now the Australian National Flag) was rarely used except in Vietnam.
  2. "The notion that people fight and die for flags is a nonsense. To promote or endorse such an idea would be to suggest that all those Canadians, New Guineans and South Africans who fought and died alongside Australians in bygone wars died in vain because their countries have subsequently changed their flags.
  3. "In 1967, during the Vietnam War, the Australian Navy changed the Naval Ensign, which was identical to the British Naval Ensign (without any reference to the Australian people) because the British Government complained that their ships were being fired upon in the South China Sea off Vietnam. Similarly, the Australian Airforce (RAAF) ensign was changed in 1982. These actions by no means denigrate or belittle the valiant efforts of those Australian Naval and Airforce men and women who died fighting under the old Naval and Airforce Ensigns."

Mr Scruby said: "We call upon the RSL to recognise that flags change and evolve as nations change and evolve and that when the current Australian flag changes, it will not in any way, shape or form lessen the valiant efforts and sacrifices of the Australian servicemen and women who have fought in bygone wars under other flags." Mr Scruby also asked the RSL to explain why they rarely if ever marched under the Union Jack, the Red Ensign, or the former Naval and Airforce ensigns in memory of the vast majority of Australians who fought and died under those flags.