Hands off the Aussie flag, says South Coast MP

Parliamentary secretary for the Illawarra and South Coast Gareth Ward is against changing the Australian flag.

The idea recently resurfaced when Western Sydney University asked the public to choose one of six new designs. More than 8000 people voted in the survey, which ran from December 16 to January 25.

“The national flag has flown over battlefields where, no matter our ethnicity or background, we have fought.''

The winning design was not too dissimilar to the current flag. 

Gareth Ward and the popular Western Sydney University proposal.

Gareth Ward and the popular Western Sydney University proposal.

The most-popular design features the Federation Star and the Southern Cross on a blue background.

However, the Union Jack is gone, replaced by a wave-like green and gold pattern dubbed the Southern Horizon. 

Mr Ward described the push for change as “a load of nonsense”. 

“The national flag has flown over battlefields where, no matter our ethnicity or background, we have fought. It has also been risen high in terms of our successes,” he said. 

“Every time I see our flag I feel proud of what it represents … and I don’t believe this is a symbol that should be tampered with.”

The Alternative Australian Flag Survey was conducted by Dr Benjamin T Jones, an adjunct research fellow at Western Sydney University, and aimed to find out Australians' attitudes to their flag and how they would feel if it was changed.

The survey, which ran from December 16 to January 25, asked voters to choose their favourite from among six flag designs, and was part of a larger Australian Research Council-funded project examining Australian national symbols.

Revealing the results on Australia Day, Dr Jones said 31 per cent of respondents voted for Southern Horizon, followed by the Reconciliation Flag, which attracted 28 per cent of the vote. That flag features the colours red, yellow and black prominently to recognise indigenous Australians.

"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," Dr Jones said.

He said the winning design featured "minimal changes beyond the removal of the Union Jack".

The survey results mirrored the recent flag referendum in New Zealand, he said, where the winning alternative design, the Silver Fern, maintained the blue background and red stars of the current national flag.

While 8140 people took part in the survey, only 6427 choose a favourite alternative flag design.

Dr Jones said that could be interpreted as a protest vote by those who wanted to keep the current flag, and from those who favoured a design not included in the survey.

The survey found 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 came third, with 15 per cent of the vote, however many people rejected the design for its "negative association with unions and extreme right-wing groups", Dr Jones said.

The Golden Wattle flag, the Sporting Flag, and the Southern Cross flag were the least popular..

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 said.