by Arthur Hibbert
The Southern Cross Landscapes
The Australian Identity
People generally associate national flags with nationalism and right- or left-wing party politics. However, my primary concern is with Australian culture and identity.
Australia is a mature nation with a population of 25 million and should have a national identity that is appropriate to its status. We still have a British colonial national flag design. Not only that but the “Australian” national flag is displayed on parliament house as the apotheosis of Australian national identity which is essentially a royal flag symbolizing the British Monarch. Do we really owe so much inherited status to the Monarch?
We have been viewed as a convict colony. Indigenous Australians were dispossessed of their rights. We built the infrastructure. In 1988 the Australia Act made us a legally independent sovereign nation, so how relevant is the national flag in today’s multicultural secular society of 25 million Australians.
The national flag is perceived as a monument to those who served in war. I respect that, but recently over half a billion dollars was spent on war memorials by the Government. Changing the flag design won`t lessen Australia`s commitment to the fallen.
The Monarch is head of the Commonwealth which has 54 countries, 44 of which have removed the Union Jack from their flags, including Canada and South Africa.
One’s individual cultural identity is part of who we are. Our social behaviour, our presentation, how we spend our leisure time and the work we do. The beliefs and customs we have. They usually involve a group or groups of some kind.
This may change and evolve over time as our society changes and evolves but empathy, reciprocity and understanding of other people’s cultures are important factors in social cohesion and solidarity, notably in Australia with our large multicultural population.
However, at a national level there is a divide between the indigenous and the Conservative British emblazoned identities. For meaningful reconciliation a change in the national flag design to include indigenous aspects would be a very significant move forward.
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