DATELINES: Harold Scruby - Campaigner For a New Flag

The Sydney Morning Herald, 18 October 1997, p.S2.

Harold Scruby spoke to Sara Conde

1947: I was conceived in London, I believe, and born in Singapore. When I was about three my family moved to Australia. Mosman has been my home ever since.

1958: My mother took my brother, sister and myself to Norway for a holiday and on the way back our ship, the Skaubryn, caught fire and sank in the middle of the Indian Ocean. It was a magnificent fire twice the height of the ship. We had to spend the night in lifeboats. The next morning 1,300 of us were picked up by a freighter called the City of Sydney, which took us to Aden. For three days my father believed that we had perished. We flew back from Aden to Australia on a DC3. My brother and I were the first people off the plane - we were on the front pages of all the newspapers.

1966: Finished my schooling at Shore. I passed first-year commerce at the University of NSW but then dropped out. During university I had dozens of part-time jobs, everything from driving taxis and working in car washes to part-time acting.

1970: Had been working as the product manager at Nestle for three years when I was offered a job at Levi Strauss (Australia). We were in a period when growth in jeans was exponential; a time when rag trade profits were extraordinary. I ended up becoming manager of the fashion division. I became good friends with Leo Schofield, who was working on the Levi′s account at Leo Burnett. We were at Clareville Kiosk one day talking about how people mangle the English language. He inspired me to write Waynespeak and Manglish. Both editions sold out completely.

1974: Left Levi′s and was appointed consultant marketing manager for H.D. Lee (Australia). I married Cathy Wilding - she was one of the leading models at Vivien′s. We′ve got two teenage sons.

1978: Formed Harold Scruby Consultancies Pty Limited, management and marketing consultants to the textile, clothing and footwear industries, which has remained my busines

1979: I was at a dinner party having a friendly debate with Michael Morton-Evans, who worked on the Caroline Jones show on 2BL, about whether we should have the Union Jack on the flag. I thought our current flag was doing us a disservice. It suggests we′re subordinate to Britain - we′re not. Michael asked me to come on Caroline′s show and talk about it. Shortly after, I met Sir James Hardy and we formed Ausflag together. Ausflag admits it′s a divisive argument, but haven′t the greatest events in history come out of issues that are divisive?

1983: Ran for Mosman Council, staying there for eight years. I took on some issues which I thought were important, like better swimming pool legislation, road safety and dog control. Dogs pollute our environment shockingly and I′m very disappointed that Clean Up Australia won′t address the issue. Strong words from Ian Kiernan could change a lot of bad habits. For five of my eight years on council I was chairman of the traffic committee. One issue involved getting a 40-kilometre zone outside Middle Harbour School - an amazing battle with bureaucracy which we proudly won. If you look at all the evidence, no child should be allowed to cross the road unaccompanied under the age of 12. Was elected deputy mayor of Mosman in 1990.

1995: Set up the Pedestrian Council of Australia with help from the NRMA, the RTA and committed friends. Every year, 350 Australian pedestrians die on our roads; many more are seriously injured. This carnage barely rates a mention.

1997: Ausflag′s aim is to see a truly Australian flag proclaimed by the Olympics. If Australia becomes a republic, our own flag will follow. Conversely, even if we don′t become a republic, there is no reason why we shouldn′t follow former colonies such as Canada and Papua New Guinea in having our own flag. Newly designed, our own flag will create a tear in the eye and a lump in the throat - I don′t think Australians realise what an unbelievably powerful and emotional symbol it′s going to be.