Union Jacks and Southern Skies - part one, section one

The Need for a Federal Flag

As early as the 1840s there had been suggestions that the Australian colonies should form some kind of federation. The impetus for federation lay in concerns over defence, coloured immigration, and economic interests; as well as due to the growth of an Australian national spirit. In the 1880s and 1890s nationalist sentiment was growing rapidly throughout the Australian colonies. In 1883 the Colonial Premiers called for the creation of a Federal Council of Australasia, which was formed by the British Parliament two years later, but which proved to be a weak body. The speech given by the NSW Premier, Sir Henry Parkes, at Tenterfield in 1889, calling for a Federal Parliament, heralded the beginning of the federal movement. Federal Leagues were formed, supported by Edmund Barton and branches of the Australian Natives Association, which boosted the political struggle for an Australian Federation.(1)

Several National Conferences and Conventions were held to discuss a Federal Constitution. The final version of this Constitution was eventually accepted by the people of the six colonies, voting in separate colonial referendums in 1889 and 1900. The Constitution was presented to the British Parliament, which, after making some minor amendments, duly passed it into law. Thus, by an act of the British Parliament, the Commonwealth of Australia came into being on the 1st of January 1901.(2)

A need therefore arose for a flag to represent this federation of Australia's colonies.

Union Jacks and Southern Skies

Australian Nationalism Information Database - www.ausnatinfo.angelfire.com/~natinfo