Celebrating Australian National Flag Day on September 3

To The POINT
with ZAC MILES*

IT IS common now in the age of the 24-hour media cycle, amongst the flurry of small, secular political interest groups, the “activist class” and rambunctious twitterati, to forget what really matters in politics; to forget the ideals at the core of our country, what it means to be an Australian. What is our national identity?

For some that question is an opportunity to attack “Australianness” and replace them with their own secular identity.

For bandana clad ex-footballers it is the opportunity to rewrite history to whitewash the sections they doesn’t like.

For me, and in my experience most of the country, our national identity is made up of those old maxims of the lucky country, rebelliousness, mateship, egalitarianism and freedom- characterised in our history by the likes of Breaker Morant, Ned Kelly, Mary McKillop, the crew of Australia II and even by the embarrassingly honest Sir Les Patterson.

Equally, it is the symbols that represent our nation that make up our identity and there are no more prominent, or important, that our chief national symbol- the Australian National Flag.

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THIS YEAR on September 3 we will be celebrating the 116th year that the Australian National Flag has stood at the masthead.

Our flag of “stars and crosses” has served us since Federation as the ensign representing the nation in war, in peace and in our growth over that last century as a major power in the region and as one of the most respected democracies in the world.

It is not widely known that our flag was chosen in a unique public design competition of over 32,823 entries- an enormous participation seeing as our population at the time was only around 3.7 million.

This was the only public competition of its kind to have given citizens the opportunity to design their own flag.

The Australian National flag or “Blue Ensign” was first hoisted on the September 3 1901 over the Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne; hence the proclamation of September 3 as Flag Day by John Howard in 1996.

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SINCE 1983 the Australian National Flag Association has sought to educate young Australians about the unique history of our flag and to encourage us to be prouder of our chief national symbol which possesses not just Anglo-Australian imagery, but also indigenous imagery.

The Southern Cross for example symbolises not only our geographic position but also Mululu, the leader of the Kandra tribe, and his four daughters?

As the outgoing President of the Association I would like to invite everyone in our community to participate in this year’s Ceremony at the Martin Place amphitheatre.

We will be continuing the commemoration of the centenary of ANZAC with a re-enactment of the famous planting of the National Flag on an enemy machine gun post- seen largely as Australia’s own “Iwo Jema moment”.

We will also be hearing from our special guest speakers, the Woolaware School Band and the Scots Pipers.

Celebrations will also be held throughout the country to commemorate Flag Day, but on September 3 this year if you have a flag pole make sure it is not kept bare- fly the flag and rejoice in what it is to be an Australian.

More information about the Australian National Flag Association and upcoming events please visit www.australianflag.org.au

* ZAC MILES is a Hunters Hill Councillor and President of the Australian National Flag Association