Monday, January 25, 2010

Flagging Australia Day.

When the Governor-General's representative in London visited Oz in 1954, I was six years old. We stood waiting patiently in Mt Alexander Road, near Melbourne's Essendon Airport for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. We had been given little British and Australian flags to greet her passing by. The Union Jack in both hands! The height-challenged amongst us also had periscopes similar to those used by the Anzac snipers at Gallipoli. Neither the flags or scopes were much use as the royal Roller flew by at speed.

In the good old days (god for short) it was generally un-Australian to indulge in excessive flag waving or ostentatious patriotism. It was a bit like disputing the umpire's decision or revealing family business to friends, much less strangers, or the media.

It was an era in which Australian Story and A Current Affair would have lacked the stream of volunteers ready to spill their guts or dob in their mates. someone who erected a flagpole on their front lawn wold have been shunned by the neighbours.

When god ruled, the Southern Cross in the guise of the Eureka flag, was associated with the dreaded Builders Labourers Federation or the local commies. Today it is becoming tainted with redneck, true blue Aussie jingoism : Our national flag has been highjacked by hillbillies Please excuse the mixed-colour metaphor.

In 1954 the only cars that wore the Australian flag belonged to Her Majesty's/Commonwealth of Australia car fleet. Today our local supermarket has the OZ flag on stubby holders. Is nothing sacred?

In the great flag debate, I favour some version of the aboriginal flag and the Southern Cross. Bound to upset lots of people.

Topically, India also has its National Day on 26 January. It is a republic with its own flag, as well as being a member of the Commonwealth of Nations aka the former British Empire. Its Independence Day is on 15 August. Indians celebrate the end of colonialism, as we commemorate the beginning.

More at my new website Red Bluff

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