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Monday, 1 September 2014
Page: 9284

Mrs PRENTICE (Ryan) (12:45): I move:

That this House:

(1) recognises that on 3 September 2014 ('Australian National Flag Day') we celebrate the

(2) 113th birthday of the Australian flag; and

(3) notes that:

(a) Australia's flag was the first in the world to be chosen in an open public competition, and this flag design competition brought forth the pride of a newly formed nation by attracting entries from 1 per cent of our population at that time;

(b) on 3 September 1901, Lady Hopetoun, wife of the first Governor-General of the new Commonwealth of Australia, formally opened the Commonwealth Flag and Seal Exhibition and announced the names of the successful competitors;

(c) the winning design was a Blue Ensign including the Union Jack, along with a Southern Cross and a six pointed star;

(d) this latter star (the 'Commonwealth Star') was changed to the seven pointed star we are familiar with today in 1908, to signify the Territory of Papua and future Territories; and

(e) the new flag represents a design by the people, for the people, and since it was first flown in 1901, has become an icon of our shared identity.

I rise today to celebrate the 113th birthday of the Australian national flag on Wednesday, 3 September, and I thank the member for Bass for his support. The Australian flag represents us as a free and democratic people and symbolises our heritage, traditions and identity. Our flag is indeed unique. It is the only flag to fly over an entire continent. It is also the first ever to be chosen by an open public competition, with more than 32,000 designs entered by men, women and children.

On 3 December 1901 our flag was flown for the first time. The six colonies had united to form the Commonwealth of Australia, and our flag became the symbol of this union. Lady Hopetoun, the wife of the first Governor-General of the new Commonwealth, announced the names of the successful competitors. Equal first place was given to five almost identical designs belonging to Australians from different walks of life. They were an artist, an optician's apprentice, an architect, a ship's officer and a schoolboy. Each symbol on our flag has a special meaning, representing our history, our unity as a federation and our geography. The Union Jack acknowledges the historical links we have to Great Britain. The Commonwealth star represents the six states, with a seventh point added in 1908 to signify the territories. And the Southern Cross, a constellation only seen in the Southern Hemisphere, represents our location in the world. However, more importantly it acknowledges the first people of Australia, as the Southern Cross is a significant part of most Aboriginal stories of the Dreamtime.

Our nation has changed and grown since the beginning of Federation, and our flag continues to unite all Australians. It has become an icon of our shared identity. As a life member of the National Flag Association of Australia, I wholeheartedly believe in the importance of our flag, and I commend the ongoing advocacy by Allan Pidgeon and his dedicated committee. It unites us as a nation in good times as we celebrate the achievements and successes of our countrymen and countrywomen, and it keeps us strong in times of tragedy and sorrow, reminding us we have the support of a whole nation. For more than 100 years Australian men and women have served under our flag, sacrificing their lives for the good of our nation. It is important that we recognise the significance of our flag as a symbol of the bravery and courage of our service men and women, and that we pay tribute to them every time it is raised.

This is done not only in Australia but also in other parts of the world. Our flag is raised every morning in the village of Villers-Bretonneux in France in memory of the thousands of Australians who lost their lives while liberating the village during the First World War. Our flag is a constant symbol and reminder of what it means to be Australian, and signifies the Australian traditions of mateship and courage. Our unique traditions were formed under our flag, and we acknowledge the sacrifices made and the hardships the generations before us went through to make Australia the safe and free country it is today. Our flag serves as a reminder of the contributions of past and current generations, and the significance of this will be passed on to our future generations. One of the co-designers of our flag, 14-year-old schoolboy Ivor William Evans, believed the representation of the Southern Cross was a symbol of Australia's bright future as a leading nation. He showed great foresight, as we are now privileged to call Australia a world leader, and the upcoming G20 summit is an example of this. It is excellent when we see our younger citizens showing pride and respect for our national symbol. Our youth of today are just as passionate about the significance of our flag, which was designed generations ago.

Earlier this year I received a letter from the very proud grandfather of one of my young constituents, David Cameron. It included David's assignment on the importance of the Australian flag and why we should keep it unchanged. This reiterates the significance and importance of our flag to young Australians and displays the respect shown for our national symbol. Our flag was designed by the people and belongs to the people. It is an important expression of national pride.

Today we celebrate pride in our flag and our nation and celebrate the symbol that binds us all. We are a country that continues to flourish, and it is with great privilege that we do this under our flag created by Australians over 100 years ago. I encourage all Australians to make a special effort to fly or display our flag, especially on its 113th birthday, next Wednesday.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Is this motion seconded?

Mr Nikolic: I second the motion and reserve my right to speak.