Some Aussie bloke has popped up to wave the flag for a change of flag.
The Aussie flag, let’s be clear.
He’s a broadcaster by name of Ray Martin, which suggests his mouth is probably given more exercise than his brain, and accordingly his opinions should be regarded with a certain wariness.
But Alf is prepared to back the bugger on this occasion.
For starters, he was surprised to find an Aussie who knows how to spell “flag” and will be even more impressed if he finds an Aussie who knows how to fly one.
A potent combination of Australia Day and the upcoming commemoration of Gallipoli got Martin to thinking (something else that can be a struggle for an Aussie).
He set out his ideas here:
The mythology — and rampant misinformation — about Australians “dying under the flag” boggles the mind. It’s just not true.
For neither of the two World Wars.
The now familiar blue ensign, which didn’t officially become our flag until April 14, 1954, was rarely even sighted at Gallipoli — or any of the other bloody killing fields that followed on the Western Front.
Martin refers to a photograph in some Aussie War Memorial, taken on December 23, 1943. It shows a Sgt T.C Derrick — a South Australian who went on to win the VC — hoisting the red ensign in Sattleberg PNG, after the village had been taken from the Japanese.
He also refers to a Septimus Powers’ painting of the 1927 grand opening in Canberra of the old Parliament House. It shows a sparkling white building festooned with Union Jacks on the top and red Australian flags obligingly waving below.
There’s not an Aussie blue flag to be seen.
What’s more, rather than having some sacred, pristine origin, the truth is that the flag we fly so proudly on this Australia Day was the winning entry in a cigarette promotion campaign in Melbourne in 1901. A bloody cigarette ad.
And what about every state flag — every one a relic from our colonial past, every one sporting the Union Jack in pride of place, in the top left hand corner?
How many of our soldiers died fighting under those state flags? None.
So why are those state flags all still so untouchable, too? And what does it say about us and our need to cling to the apron strings of England 114 years after Federation?
Meanwhile, Martin goes on, New Zealand has decided to seize ‘the one hundred year anniversary’ of Gallipoli to launch a fair-dinkum flag debate.
He quotes The Boss.
“We want a new flag design”, conservative Prime Minister John Key declared, “a flag that says ‘New Zealand’, in the same way that the maple leaf says ‘Canada’ or the Union Jack says ‘Britain’. Without a word being spoken.”
But one of the reasons for The Boss wanting us to think about a new flag is that he is pissed off with the number of times he has found himself at ceremonies or functions overseas where the Aussie flag has been flown instead of the New Zealand one.
The flag changers forget that the Union Jack bit of our flag reflects our link with Britain, the Queen and the Empire (albeit a crumbling Empire).
But here’s the thing:
If the Aussies were to go along with Martin and replace their flag with something distinctively Australian – a pile of kangaroo shit about the size of the Sydney Opera House perhaps or the Aussie PM’s budgie smugglers – we would no longer need to replace our flag to avoid the trans-Tasman confusion.