Steve Irons MP Federal Member for Swan

Australian National Flag Day

The flag has three elements on a blue background: the Union Jack, the Commonwealth Star and the Southern Cross. The Union Jack in the upper left corner represents the history of British settlement. Below the Union Jack is a white Commonwealth, or Federation, star. It has seven points representing the unity of the six states and the territories of the Commonwealth of Australia. The star is also featured on the Commonwealth Coat of Arms. The Southern Cross is shown on the flag in white. It is a constellation of five stars that can only be seen from the southern hemisphere and is a reminder of Australia’s geography.

Symbolism

The flag has three elements on a blue background: the Union Jack, the Commonwealth Star and the Southern Cross.

The Union Jack in the upper left corner represents the history of British settlement.

Below the Union Jack is a white Commonwealth, or Federation, star. It has seven points representing the unity of the six states and the territories of the Commonwealth of Australia. The star is also featured on the Commonwealth Coat of Arms.

The Southern Cross is shown on the flag in white. It is a constellation of five stars that can only be seen from the southern hemisphere and is a reminder of Australia’s geography.

History

In 1901 Australia’s first Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Sir Edmund Barton, announced an international competition to design a flag for the new Commonwealth of Australia. There were 32,823 entries and five nearly-identical entries were awarded equal first.

The flag was flown for the first time in September 1901 at the Exhibition Building in Melbourne, which was then the seat of the federal government originally governed. In this original design the stars of the Southern Cross had different numbers of points to signify their brightness

The Commonwealth ensigns

In 1903 King Edward VII approved two designs for the flag of Australia: the Commonwealth blue ensign, and the Commonwealth red ensign, for the merchant Navy.

On both ensigns, the stars of the Southern Cross were simplified to four seven-pointed stars and one five pointed star. In 1908 a seventh point was added to the Commonwealth star to represent the Australian territories.

However, people were confused about the use of two Australian flags. The blue ensign was meant to be for official and naval purposes and the red ensign was meant to be used by the merchant fleet, but the general public began using the red ensign on land.

Proclamation: The Flags Act 1953

In 1941, Prime Minister the Rt Hon Robert Menzies issued a press statement recommending the flying of the blue ensign as a national emblem. The Flags Act 1953 subsequently proclaimed the Australian blue ensign as the Australian National Flag and the Australian red ensign as the flag for merchant ships registered in Australia

An amendment to the Flags Act 1953 was passed in 1998 to ensure that the Australian National Flag can be changed only with the agreement of the Australian people.

Other official Australian flags include the Australian Aboriginal Flag, the Torres Strait Islander Flag and the ensigns of the Australian Defence Force.

 

Australian National Flag Day

3 September is Australian National Flag Day (ANF). It was proclaimed by the Governor-General on 28 August 1996 and celebrates the first time the flag was flown on 3 September 1901. It has been celebrated since 3 September 1996. It is an opportunity for individuals, community organisations, local authorities, businesses and schools to celebrate with pride the anniversary of when the Australian National Flag was first flown in 1901.

Events over the last five years include: in 2014, then Prime Minister Abbott officiated at a flag raising ceremony at Parliament House. In 2015, the Australian War Memorial hosted a flag raising ceremony, at which the Governor-General delivered an address. In the last three years the Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister has attended a ANF Day Ceremony at the Brisbane City Council.

Celebrating ANF Day

All Australians are encouraged to fly or display the ANF to celebrate ANF Day on 3 September each year.

Australian National Flag Day is an opportunity for individuals, community organisations, local authorities, businesses and schools to celebrate with pride the anniversary of the Australian National Flag.

Protocols for Raising the Flag

While there are no official guidelines in relation to conducting flag raising ceremonies, basic flag protocol should be observed:

                     the flag should be treated with respect and dignity;

                     the flag should be raised no earlier than dawn and lowered no later than dusk, but may be flown at night when illuminated;

                     the flag should be raised briskly and lowered ceremoniously;

                     the Australian National Flag should be raised first and lowered last;

      •                     two flags should not be flown from the same flagpole; and.

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