Australia National Symbols: Flag

The Australian Flag is major national symbol, both within Australia and overseas. It belongs equally to all Australians and anyone in Australia may fly it.

In 1901, the newly-formed Federal Government announced a competition for a design for the flag. There were 33,823 entries submitted, and these were displayed and judged in September, 1901. Common ingredients of the designs were: the map of Australia, the Southern Cross, the Union Jack, kangaroos, emus, kookaburras, crowns and stripes. It took two months to display all of them, and then after six days of inspection, the judges favored five very similar entries.

All five had used the six-pointed federal star/the Union Jack and the Southern Cross. The winning design, the judges said, had three outstanding qualities: it showed the Federation of the once-separate Australian colonies (now states); it was distinctive - it displayed the Southern Cross, brightest constellation in the Southern Hemisphere; and by its display of the Union Jack, it illustrated Australia's loyalty to the British Empire.

King Edward VII approved the design chosen for Australia's National Flag in February, 1903.

The Australian National Flag has a spacious blue background and depicts three symbols: the Commonwealth Star, the stars of the Southern Cross and the Union Flag.

The Commonwealth Star:

The Commonwealth Star has seven points, one for each State and one for the additional territories. At Federation (1 January, -1901) it was called a Federation Star and it had only six points, one for each colony.

The Southern Cross:

The five white stars of the Southern Cross are prominently displayed against the blue on the fly of the flag. The four large stars all have seven points and the small star has five points.

The Union Flag:

A quarter of the Australian National Flag represents British heritage. It is the 'Union' Flag of England, Scotland and Ireland. On 26 January, 1788, the Union Flag was first raised in Australia at Sydney Cove, marking the beginning of white settlement.

The presence of the Union Flag on Australia's National Flag represents the following factors of Australian society:

- Australia's history of discovery, early white settlement and exploration were accomplished by the British Empire.

- The' common language spoken in Australia is English.

- The Monarch of Britain is also the Monarch of Australia (Queen or King).

- Australia is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, of which the Monarch of Britain is the leader.

- Australia's Government is based on the British Westminster System.