Union Jacks and Southern Skies - part one, section six

Criticism of the Flag

As soon as the new competition-winning flag design had become public, volleys of criticism were levelled at it. Many were critical from an aesthetic perspective, with much criticism being made of the extremely large Federal Star (later to be made smaller by the 1909 amendment).(14)

It was seen by many as basically the same design of the Victorian State Flag; with the crown in the Victorian Flag being taken away from the upper fly, and the Federal Star being placed in the lower hoist. Considering the inter-State rivalries current at the time, this close similarity to the Victorian Flag wouldn't have impressed many people in the other States.(15)

There were some who felt that the winning design of the earlier Herald competition was far superior to the design chosen. The Herald had held its flag competition before the Review of Reviews had begun theirs, and the design that won the Herald's 25 prize was almost the same as the design which had been produced by the Review of Reviews' competition. The difference was that whereas the Commonwealth Flag had a large star in its lower hoist, the Herald Flag had six red stripes there; each to represent the Australian States. Mention should also be made that although the Herald design had been attacked for having copied the idea of red stripes from the flag of the United States of America, the Herald had pointed out that red strips were actually a feature of the British East India Company long before the U.S. flag existed.(16)

The third Prime Minister of Australia, John Watson (ALP), had even suggested substituting a different design for the Commonwealth Flag, one that "had the Union Jack in the center resting on six vertical red stripes on a white ground." He was criticised by some of his own supporters for proposing this, as they demanded an Australian Flag without a Union Jack.(17)

Republicans generally had attacked the Commonwealth Flag, as it included the Union Jack. Indeed, to the republicans, any design incorporating the Union Jack was to be opposed as it represented allegiance to the British Empire, rather than to the Australian nation.(18)

Also, some conservatives were unhappy with the flag, in particular with the inclusion of the Southern Cross, as they associated that symbol with the radicalism of the Eureka Stockade. Many conservatives were quite content to go on using the Union Jack.(19)

Union Jacks and Southern Skies

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