One of the reasons why I havent’ written on my blog recently is because I have been camping on the Inverloch foreshore. I have already written about this experience last year so I won’t be repeating myself.
One thing I have noticed is the increase of Australian flags attached to caravan annexes and tents. These seem to increase every year around Australia Day. Of course very year at this time we get articles about ‘identity’ and the republic and the flag, to be forgotten for the next twelve months. I read somewhere that the increase in flag weaving this is due to a ‘Howard effect’ where the idea of patriotism around a flag (which I think is still a bit of an American concept) has been increasing. I quite liked the somewhat low key pride in Australia that people had in the 1970’s and 1980’s. This gung ho stuff with flags and so forth leaves me uncomfortable.
I don’t disagree with being proud of the country of birth or adoption, but with the good stuff (that Australia undoubtedly has) I feel that the bad stuff also has to be acknowledged, and I feel that with Howard the bad stuff was placed under the carpet and any attempt to state that not everything Australian was hunky dory was labeled as ‘black arm view of history’ or even disloyal. I can understand that this was a reaction by some in describing Australia as a horrible racist country with no culture before European migrants arrived – which is not true either, but we shouldn’t swing from one side to the other.
The issue here is that even for Australians like me which have migrated (or were migrated by their parents, like me) it is important to feel they can participate in how the country is shaped as people who were born and bred here. And this includes the fact that Australia needs a new flag.
I always thought that for most Australians the current flag is probably OK. It acknowledges fact that modern Australia was created by Britain and that we are a Southern Hemisphere country by the Southern Cross and we are a federation with the federation star. But I think as a symbol for the outside world, that Union Jack is a problem. Because the UK flag is such a recognisable symbol anyone who sees the Australian flag would immediately think of the UK instead of Australia. It interferes with the representation to others about who we really are.
Personally I don’t think that the flag will be changing soon. There is no groundswell of sentiment for this and of course even Gilliard, scared of straying too far from the social political framework set by Howard has stated that the flag will stay as it is.
Like the republic and the squabbles that ensued about which model would be the right one that scuttled the referendum, the same is for the flag. There will be no consensus about the design, meaning that we won’t ever decide on a new one.
If you visit the Ausflag site, you will see hundreds of designs. I do have a favourite. For me the flag shouldn’t shout it’s symbolism out loud but should contain its meanings in a clear but understated way. That is why I think things like the full blown UK flag in the current flag or kangaroos in a proposed new one don’t work for me.
But this flag encapsulate for me everything about Australia.