Symbolism in flag is "too narrow"

The Sydney Morning Herald, 26 January 1998, p.3.

By Paul Sheehan

Australia needs a new flag because the existing one symbolises complacency, dependency and subordination, Mrs Lois O′Donoghue, former chairwoman of ATSIC, said yesterday during the launch of a campaign for a new flag.

"Our existing flag symbolises a narrow slice of our history, including a significant period when the rights of Australia′s indigenous peoples were overlooked," she said. "For that reason, most of Australia′s indigenous people cannot relate to the existing flag."

Forty of the 100 designs unveiled yesterday include some element of the Aboriginal flag or culture.

The former NSW Premier Mr Nick Greiner, co-chair of Ausflag the private group sponsoring the competition, said that seeking a new flag was "not about denigrating the contribution that the United Kingdom has made to this country. It would be idle and stupid to do so".

The strength of feeling among some traditionalists was evident when Ausflag co-chair Mr Nick Whitlam was heckled when he said Australians had fought under the British Union Jack in several wars.

"Not correct!" shouted Mr Philip Gibson, a monarchist ex-serviceman who opposes any change. Mr Gibson also said it was inappropriate that the flag competition was sponsored by foreign companies Fuji Xerox and Apple computers.

The former Prime Minister Mr Gough Whitlam also attended the launch. "We need a new flag," he said. "It needs to be simple, a design with which every Australian can identify, and which people around the world can identify with Australia."

Three designs chosen by public response and a judging panel will be sent to the Government in October or November with a request for a national plebiscite.

The designs can be viewed at the Museum of Sydney or on the Internet at www.ausflag.com.au.