Most people who favour the current Australian flag hold that the small Union Jack up in the corner is an objective nod to our history. The tacit assumption is that the Southern Cross is the major motif of the flag, and that the Union Jack was added. Yet this is a mythic misunderstanding of how our flag was put together, and is itself emblematic of a continuing servility to Britain.
The construction of the Australian flag was precisely the other way round! Technically, our flag is what vexillologists (flag specialists) call a “defaced blue ensign” of the British Navy. There are several blue ensign designs, and all of them start with the Union Jack, before being “defaced”. This is why the proud flags of New Zealand, Fiji, Tuvalu and all six Australian states are basically the same.
So our proud Southern Cross is literally a second class embellishment on someone else’s flag. Where’s the national pride in that?
It’s not just the image of the Union Jack on our flag that offends my republican sensibilities. Australia as a young nation was subordinated in the very way its flag was contrived.
The search for an up-to-date flag continues …