Australian Flag Society responds to Ray Martin
This is the Australian Flag Society response to the campaign to change the Australian flag launched in April by new flag activist, Ausflag director and well known Australian media personality Ray Martin. Also included is the text of a proposed National Language, Holiday and Flag Bill, which both appear on the society’s official website.
In a speech to the Samuel Griffith Society in 1996, announcing the Howard administration’s intention to introduce the Flags Amendment Bill, Minister for Administrative Services, David Jull said:
“…no politician would seek a plebiscite unless it was clear the public was in favour of change, and had shown support for an alternative design.”
Only when these two conditions are met will a National Flag Poll be held.
At present there are too many descendants of war veterans in the electorate and a significant majority of Australians favour no change.
As the Foundation of Australia took place without the consent of the inhabitants of the time being, the view has been advanced there is the need to re-negotiate the nation as a “reconciled republic”. However it is the case that modern Aboriginal people have generally approved of the changes that have occurred since British settlement by marrying the heirs and successors of the colonial population and more recent arrivals and their progeny and integrating in large numbers.
The proportion of Aboriginal adults married (de facto or de jure) to non-Aboriginal spouses was 69 per cent according to the 2001 census, up from 64 per cent in 1996, 51 per cent in 1991 and 46 per cent in 1986. The census figures show there were more intermixed Aboriginal couples in capital cities: 87 per cent in 2001 compared to 60 per cent in rural and regional Australia.
When Captain Phillip stepped ashore at Sydney Cove, most authorities place the Aboriginal population of Australia at between 250,000-300,000. The last accurate census on the number of full-blooded Aborigines was in 1961; today the number may be no more than 30,000 out of a total “indigenous” population of 517,200.
In 1996 the census showed almost 72 per cent of Aborigines practiced some form of Christianity. Further data on Aboriginal assimilation was recorded in the 2006 census, which showed 31 per cent of Aborigines lived in major cities and another 45 per cent in or close to rural towns, a major increase compared with 46 per cent living in urban areas in 1971. There was been a move away from communal type living with one in three Aborigines owning their own homes. Aboriginal languages, of which there are several hundred (many extinct or nearly so), are spoken by 12 per cent of the Aboriginal population (aged 5 years and over), of whom 78 per cent are also proficient English speakers.
Based on current trends, it is more likely than not that the dysgenic traits carried by Aboriginal people and nature will decide the matter and remove this argument for change in the fullness of time.
None of these truths are likely to have any impact on the plans of self-appointed Aboriginal leaders and their white sympathisers, or even be heard. The declaration of a republic could place Australia on a slippery slope that leads to retrograde steps such as the reception of customary law, re-introduction of separate elected representation, reserved seats in parliament, constitutional recognition and a Bill of Aboriginal Rights, a treaty and sovereign Aboriginal states carved out of Australian territory. However, the fact that turnout for elections to the former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission was typically around 20 per cent of eligible voters, and that there is no national non-funded Aboriginal voice, points to there being no such thing as a collective Aboriginal identity and suggests the artificial nature of the separatist agenda, and it would seem these fantasies are and will not be supported by most common Aaboriginal people themselves.
All that remains for radical Aboriginal rights activists to do is to reconcile themselves with the fact their future lies not in statements of separateness but as an ethnic minority with equal citizenship subject to one law in a united Australian Federation.
Multiracial though Australians may be, British and Irish culture are well preserved in our society within ongoing political and social institutions, pillars of the shared national identity such as: the parliamentary system of government under the crown, the common law, and the education system. The national language of Australia is English. Many programs on Australian television are sourced from British broadcasters such as the BBC and ITV, such as the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, which has become a tradition each New Year.
Australia was never a colony in the same way as, say, India was, where there was a 3,000 year old culture there before the British came and stayed for 300 years. When they left the Indians kept the parliamentary system and the law as the basis for a modern nation, rather than go back to being a bunch of competing princedoms. But otherwise the Indian culture continued. Australia on the other hand is in many, many ways a piece of the mother country set down some place else. When independence came we could hardly revert back to the Aboriginal way of life and language because it was never ours to begin with.
The Union Jack reminds all Australians that European civilisation came, for better, worse or indifferent, and that in less than 200 years there was a modern, Western nation established here because of this fact.
Patriotic organisations involved in promoting Australian National Flag Day in schools report our young people are quite protective of the flag these days, with indications being that the baby boomers who came of age around the time of the Vietnam War are being replaced with a younger generation with an overall more conservative bent.
It is only when supporters of change display their preference by the 1000s will there be a groundswell of opinion sufficient for a government to take steps in parliament towards giving the Australian people their say.
“New flag flying” is [based on] almost nothing for reasons such as: sensational, galvanising alternatives do not exist, and what goes against one being found is that the symbols that resonate with Australians do not lend themselves to being used as devices on a flag; some of the garish designs that have been put forward, with five or more colours and intricacies like Aboriginal dot paintings, are prohibitively expensive to manufacture; and that those who favour change are not the sort of people who would display a flag under any circumstances in any event.
On 24 March 1998, rules stipulating the process for reviewing the design of the national flag received Royal Assent: to replace the flag entirely, the existing flag and one or more choices must be put to the electorate – assuming the act is not amended by parliament through the normal processes. There is a weighty body of legal opinion to suggest sections 3(2) & (3) of the Flags Act 1953 (Cth) are unconstitutional and open to being rendered inoperable by a court.
Joining states such as France, Iraq and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia which have made their national flags part of the constitution would put beyond all doubt that the future of the flag that Australia has grown up under, and the flag that has been associated with all of her many achievements on the international scene, lies in the hands of the people it represents.
The price of any further votes on republicanism must be constitutional recognition of the national language, holiday and flag as part of the proposed amendment, or as a simultaneous question.
PROPOSED REFERENDUM QUESTION:
To approve the changes to the Constitution proposed in the Constitution Amendment (National Language, Holiday and Flag) Constitutional Amendment Bill, to declare English to be the national language, 26 January in each year to be Australia Day and a certain flag to be the Australian National Flag.
Constitution Amendment (National Language, Holiday and Flag) Constitutional Amendment Bill, 2009
An Act to amend the Constitution to declare English to be the national language, 26 January in each year to be Australia Day and a certain flag to be the Australian National Flag.
1. The short title of this Act is the National Language, Holiday and Flag Act, 2009.
2. The Constitution is amended by the insertion of section 127, 127A and 127B as set out below:
Section 127 – Status of English Language
English is the national language of Australia.
Section 127A – National Holiday
26 January in each year shall be Australia Day, being the anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788.
Section 127B – Australian National Flag
A blue flag with the Union Jack occupying the upper hoist, a large white Commonwealth Star in the centre of the lower hoist and 5 white stars representing the Southern Cross constellation in the fly half.