High profile Australians join call for new flag

NZ Herald, 26 January 2011.

Twelve former Australians of the Year have banded together to call for a new national flag, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

In a statement released today by Ausflag - a non-profit organisation which aims to secure popular support for the adoption of a new national flag - Australian household names including Dawn Fraser and Evonne Goolagong said they believed the time had come "to embrace a flag worthy of our sovereign, independent, mature, egalitarian nation; our own flag".

Patrick McGorry, a mental health expert and 2010′s Australian of the Year, told the SMH the present design caused confusion overseas and embarrassment at home.

"It′s time Australia grew up. Right now, it′s a bit like a slowly maturing, Generation Y adolescent, a 27-year-old who just won′t leave home," he said.

Ausflag founder Harold Scruby told the paper the support of highly respected Australians was "a major breakthrough" in the campaign to change the flag.

The statement, which was released to coincide with the nationwide Australia Day holiday, called on the country′s parliament "to commence the process to design a truly Australian flag".

"We must boldly take the next step and define ourselves confidently and distinctly before the world. Our new flag must be unambiguously and inclusively Australian, representing all of us equally," it said.

Australia′s current flag - adopted in 1954 to replace the Union Jack - features a large, white seven-pointed star on its bottom left and a representation of the Southern Cross constellation on its right.

The Union Jack has been retained in the top left hand corner of the flag.

The statement described the current flag as "a transitional symbol, representing a stepping stone to a truly Australian flag".

Professor McGorry told the paper there was no excuse for inaction.

"I am sure some people will say, ′oh, this is not the time. Australia has other priorities′. But that′s pathetic. Governments can deal with dozens, hundreds of issues at one time."

A poll on the SMH website displaying six alternative Australian flag designs shows 46 per cent of respondents would prefer to keep the current design.

Of the alternatives presented, an Aboriginal flag, featuring a yellow circle on a horizontally split background of red (at the bottom) and black (at the top), was most popular, garnering 12 per cent of the votes.