Flagging an identity crisis

The Sydney Morning Herald, 23 November 1996, p.32

Schofield - Leo Schofield′s weekly column

One can′t help but admire Ausflag founder Harold Scruby′s tenacity and single-mindedness. Scarcely a week passes without a package of flag-related bumf landing on my desk and, I suspect, on the desk of every other journalist in town.

In this week′s care package are two proposed designs for a new flag for NSW, each incorporating the two principal symbols of this State: a waratah and a sky-blue colour. In finished form, they were run up the flag poles along William Street yesterday and will fly there for a few weeks to test public reaction. My reaction? They′re OK, but how about tackling the thornier problem of the national flag first? There is really no acceptable design or political alternative to the Aboriginal flag. Except for maintaining the dreary, safe, boring status quo.

Along with the NSW designs, Scruby included a standard piece of Ausflag propaganda that is, for me, especially telling. It illustrates the flags of 22 monarchies and 31 republics in the Commonwealth. All but two have their own distinctive flags. Only Australia and New Zealand retain the Union Jack. Another punchy page shows 28 flags with the Union Jack in the corner. The headline runs:

"AUSTRALIA′S IDENTITY CRISIS, Colony, Nation, State, Fire Brigade or Yacht Club?"

If you′re not on Harold′s hit list but would like to access the Ausflag folks′ message, tune into their web site: http://www.ausflag.com.au