Survey finds 'Southern Horizon' the favourite alternative Australian flag design

Southern Horizon 

'Southern Horizon' flag design

A public survey into alternative Australian flag designs by Dr Benjamin T. Jones from Western Sydney University has attracted over eight thousand responses, with the 'Southern Horizon' the favourite option.

As part of a larger Australian Research Council funded project looking at Australian national symbols, six popular alternative flag designs were presented to survey participants between 16 December and 25 January.

The 'Southern Horizon' was the most popular choice, with 31 per cent of the vote, with the 'Reconciliation Flag' placing second at 28 per cent.

Reconciliation Flag design 

'Reconciliation Flag' design

Dr Jones says the survey result mirrors the recent flag referendum (opens in a new window) in New Zealand, where the winning alternative design, the 'Silver Fern', maintained the blue background and red stars of the current national flag.

"Those who support a new Australian flag design fall primarily into two categories; those who want a neutral design with some link to the current flag, and those who want a completely new design with specific recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples," he says.

"Similar to New Zealand, the winning design in this survey, the 'Southern Horizon' flag, maintains the blue backdrop of the Australian flag, as well as the Southern Cross and the Federation Star. There are minimal changes beyond the removal of the Union Jack."

Key findings of the survey include:

  • While 8,140 people took part in the survey, only 6,427 choose a favourite alternative design. This can be interpreted as a protest vote from those who want to keep the current flag, and from those who favour a design not included in the survey.
  • 88 per cent of participants identified as Australian with British, Irish or European heritage. 3 per cent identified as Aboriginal of Torres Strait Islander.
  • 64 per cent of respondents believed the Australian flag should change, compared with 36 per cent who believed it should remain the same.
  • The Eureka Flag polled well and came in third, with 15 per cent of the vote, however many commentators specifically rejected the Eureka design for its negative association with unions and extreme right-wing groups.
  • The most common responses when asked what elements should be in a new Australian flag were "simplicity", "Southern Cross", and "Green and Gold"
  • Most participants who favoured a new flag suggested they would support any design that did not have a Union Jack, even if it was not their favourite.

Dr Jones says the response to the survey has been enthusiastic, and a government-run alternative flag poll would provide a fair and democratic way to fully explore the issue.

"Australia has never had a truly democratic process to choose a national flag. The 1901 competition for a flag of government — not a national flag — required a British element and British approval," he says.

"The winning design, the 'Blue Ensign', became the national flag only in 1954 when the Queen assented to Prime Minister Robert Menzies' Flags Act. The people were not involved."

"The response to this survey shows a proper national conversation on the Australian flag and a democratic vote is long overdue."


26 January 2016

Mark Smith, Senior Media Officer

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