The Australian flag is a Blue Ensign, a field of blue where the Union Jack is found on the upper left quadrant. It also has a large white seven-pointed star, known as the Commonwealth Star in the lower left quadrant. The right upper and lower quadrant is found the Southern Cross constellation consisting of five white stars, one small five-pointed star and four larger seven pointed stars.
The first Australian flag was flown on September 3, 1901 in Melbourne after conducting a national contest in designing the newly independent country’s flag. After the contest, the 3rd of September has been declared as Australian National Flag Day and is a national holiday.
There are three symbols found on the Australian flag. The Union Jack is a recognition of its British colonial history and its continued loyalty and adherence to the British Empire. The Commonwealth Star, also known as the Federation Star, which has seven points signifying the six federating colonies and the seventh point is for the Territory of Papua and future territories of the country. The Southern Cross is one of the most visible and recognizable constellations found in the Southern Hemisphere. Historically, the Southern Cross has been used to represent the Australian colony. Another reason for such usage is the symbolism of the four moral virtues said to be signified by the constellation, namely, justice, prudence, temperance and fortitude.
Under a formal law, called the Flags Act, the Australian National Flag must comply with the following specifications:
1. The Union Jack occupies the upper quarter next to the flagstaff;
2. The Commonwealth Star in the center of the lower quarter and its top point directed to the St. George’s Cross of the Union Jack;
3. The Southern Cross or five white stars in the half of the flag further from the staff;
Also further stipulated in the Flags Act are the guidelines in the proper use and display of the Australian National Flag. These are as follows:
a. The National Flag must always be flown superior to any other flag or ensign when in Australia or in Australian territory, aloft and free;
b. The National Flag must be flown in all government buildings and displayed in polling stations during elections or referendums;
c. Private citizens or pleasure craft can fly only the Red Ensign flag, the National Flag with a red background. Only government or state craft or locations can fly the National Flag, the flag with a blue background or called the Blue Ensign;
d. The flag should not be displayed upside down under any circumstance not even for distress situations nor can two flags be flown on the same flagpole and only during daylight hours unless illuminated;
e. The National Flag is not to be placed on the ground or dropped under any circumstance. It should not also be used to cover an object prior to an unveiling or hide other items. Flags that have decayed or faded should not be displayed and proper disposal would be to cut them up into smaller pieces and then disposed.
Free West Papua
West Papua is a land rich with resources, they have the world’s largest gold mine, rain forests and lots of land. For more than 50 years they’ve been under Indonesian rule and their struggle for independence has been kept undercover until now ….and to talk about this on this week’s Talanoa segment, we look their fight for Independence. We chat to the Director of the Pacific Media Centre, David Robie and campaigner Francesca Rex-Horoi about the issues facing West Papua