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Thursday, 26 May 1904

Mr CROUCH (Corio) - I move-

That, in the opinion of this House, the Australian Flag, as officially selected, should ' be flown, upon all forts, vessels, saluting places, and public buildings of the Commonwealth upon all occasions when flags are used.

Mr O'malley - The honorable member should include the public schools.

Sir John Quick - The Commonwealth has no control over the public schools.

Mr CROUCH - No doubt honorable members will be surprised to learn that it was necessary to place a notice of this motion upon the business-paper, and that a resolution of this House must be passed to require to be done by the Government something which it is only right and proper should be done. They are aware that, at the request of the King, designs for a Commonwealth Flag were asked for by the first Commonwealth Administration. Prizes, amounting to ,£75, were offered to successful competitors, and designs were invited from the citizens of the Commonwealth and of the ad-, joining Colony of New Zealand. Ultimately, the prize-money was divided among five competitors, who, strangely enough, all sent in the same design. The designs submitted were then publicly displayed in the Exhibition Buildings at Melbourne. To the opening of this display not only were members of the then first Commonwealth Parliament invited, but invitations were extended to many of the prominent citizens of Melbourne, and additional prestige was given to the event bv asking the wife of the Governor-General, the Countess of Hopetoun, to formally declare it open. After considerable delay, it was announced in the press and in the Commonwealth Gazette that a design had been chosen, and, after further delay - as I could not understand why, since

Ministers had selected a flag, it was not being flown from the public offices - I asked two questions upon the subject, which were reported in Hansard. The first question was asked on the 21st November, 1901, and was addressed to the then Prime Minister, now his Honour Mr. Justice Barton. His reply was that the matter was still before the Colonial Office. Then, on the 30th July, 1902, I addressed another question to the honorable member for Ballarat, because the flag had not even then been used; and I was told that its use was still unauthorized. But, because of the attention directed to the matter by. my questions, a cablegram was sent to the Colonial Office, with the result that shortly afterwards the selected design was gazetted, and a coloured copy of it, together with a full official description, was printed and circulated with the Commonwealth Gazette. I was then informed, as will be seen by reference to Hansard, that the selection of the design had been made by the Ministry at the request of the Imperial authorities, and that the design accepted and authorized was the official Australian flag. Since then the position has been that the Ministry have had a flag, but have not known what to do with it. Possibly the members of the late Administration were rather sorry that they had anything to do with the matter, because they saw that, if the official Australian flag were used, it would have to be flown from the ships of the fleet paid for and controlled by Australia, while the British flag would be flown from the vessels partly paid for by Australia, but entirely under Imperial control. It seems to me that the fact that this distinction will have to be made has kept the Government from insisting upon the flying of the flag from vessels like the Cerberus, the Victorian gunboats, and other vessels of war owned by the Commonwealth, and it has been rarely_ flown even from .our public buildings. When at any military function the Military Forces of the Commonwealth are marched past a saluting base to salute the flag of their country, the Australian flag is always conspicuous bv its absence. Whether that is due to the 'fact that the General Officer Commanding is an Imperial officer, and would not stand under the Australian flag, I am not prepared to say.

Mr Willis - The Union Jack is there, and is honoured all the same.

Mr CROUCH - That is so; but it should be remembered that the Australian flag bears the Jack, and there is no idea of separation involved in its use. By the Jack in its corner it symbolises the history of the old country, whilst, in addition, we have the States symbolised by distinctive stars, and the Commonwealth' itself symbolised by the larger star underneath them. When we have an Australian flag, it is difficult to understand why it should not be used. I have experienced a good deal of difficulty in my .n.' ./. to induce tha Department to take any step in regard to this matter. Before' I gave notice of the motion I am moving to-day, I tried to get the Department to take action. I wrote first of all to the then Prime Minister on the 1 6th April, 1903, calling his attention to the fact that a flag other than the Australian flag was flown at the recent military encampment, and on the ships of the Auxiliary Squadron during the Easter naval manoeuvres, and that the Australian flag was conspicuous by its absence. I received a reply from the Secretary to the Prime Minister, which I shall read to the House, in order to show the position the Government took up in the matter : -

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