MEDIA RELEASE

Monday 29 August 1994

Ethnic Communities′ Council backs change of flag

In another move towards Australia getting her own flag, the Ethnic Communities′ Council (NSW) at their AGM yesterday ratified their motion: "That the ECC of NSW endorses and supports the petition calling for the changing of the Australian flag."

This comes only a fortnight after former ATSIC Deputy Commissioner, Mr Sol Bellear stated that Aboriginal reconciliation could never be achieved while the Union Jack was on the Australian flag and an opinion poll revealing that 59% of Olympic and Commonwealth Games gold medallists wanted a new Australian flag, the Executive Director of Ausflag, Harold Scruby said today. It also follows the emotional and popular support Cathy Freeman received after parading her own Aboriginal flag around the Commonwealth Games stadium in Victoria, Canada.

Clearly, aboriginal and ethnic groups are now overtly beginning to demand that they be equally represented on the Australian flag. They are calling for a flag which does not depict the British as the original inhabitants of Australia and gives all Australians equal recognition and status under the one national flag. The Canadian flag, in a powerful and distinctive red and white maple-leaf symbol, gives equal status and recognition to all Canadians: Indians, Eskimos, British and French alike, Mr Scruby said.

Our flag not only symbolises subservience to Great Britain, it is so easily mistaken for the dozens of defaced colonial British ensigns which fly around the world, particularly New Zealand′s, that it was virtually impossible to tell which country had won a medal at the Commonwealth Games, without reading the text next to the flag graphics or listening to the commentator. Countries such as Canada, New Guinea and South Africa (which recently removed the Union Jack from its flag) were always readily recognisable with their own individual symbols, Mr Scruby said.

Mr Scruby said that following publication of last week′s "gold medallists" Newspoll and the ECC′s decision, it is now essential that the Federal Government recognises that there is a strong and growing desire for a new flag. The Newspoll showed a greater desire to change the flag (59%) than to become a republic (53%).

He also called on Mrs Joan Kirner and the Centenary of Federation Committee to re-write their report, which although required to consider Australian symbols appropriate for the next century, failed to mention one word about a new Australian flag being a vital issue to be addressed; both as part of the celebration of our maturity and multi-culturalism and reconciliation with our indigenous people. He called on the Government to devote at least the same resources towards the research and development of a truly Australian flag as it has given to the Republic Advisory Committee, in order that we have our own flag in time for the 2000 Olympics.