Along with the republican issue, a debate has raged for decades about whether the current Australian flag should be discarded and replaced with a banner more in keeping with aspirations of true independence and the representation of all citizens of Australia. Most of the points raised in favour of keeping the existing flag have been emotional and sentimental, usually for reasons of historical significance and Australia's past under British rule. Most republicans want the flag to be changed to reflect independence from Britain, as in reality, Australia has stood alone as a nation in its own right since Federation on 01 January 1901. Not only that, Australia has literally been abandoned by Britain politically and financially, ever since Britain joined the European Common Market and then the European Union.
The Australian flag should be changed for a number of reasons other than issues of independence and republicanism. The biggest issue with the current flag is that it has no real worldwide identity and is only well recognised by most Australians and occasionally by some people from British Commonwealth nations. This has caused problems at events such as the Olympic Games, where on a number of occasions when Australian athletes had won medals, the New Zealand or similar looking flags of other nations were raised to honour the wins. Surveys have revealed that a high proportion of Australians seem to have a problem distinguishing between the Australian and New Zealand flag and this is a disgrace.
The idea of a nation having a flag is not primarily for its citizens to recognise, as they are taught what it looks like from a young age. Thus it does not matter what design a flag is to those who are represented by it, as they will always recognise it. The prime reason for having a flag is that it is the symbol representing a nation to the rest of the world and this is why it must be instantly identifiable to as many people around the world as possible. There is no point in having a banner that is unrecognised by most people on the planet.
Literally every person not still swinging from the trees in some remote jungle can instantly identify the flags of the USA with its stars and stripes, Canada with its maple leaf, Israel with the Star of David and Japan with the rising sun. These flags perform the exact function for which they were intended, not just as a symbol for the citizens of their countries but an instantly recognisable emblem of those countries to the rest of the world.
How many people on the planet can recognise or describe the flags of Albania, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Latvia, Uruguay and so many more banners with uninteresting and unsymbolic features? The answer is that very few people can describe the flags of most countries unless they have a significant and unique design, such as those of the USA, Canada, Israel and Japan.
For instance, it would be most surprising if 1% of people in Australia knew the nations to which the above flags belong, so their whole purpose is irrelevant. Just to save any agonising over their identity, from left to right, they are the flags of Ghana, Tonga and India. But as a symbol of identity for those nations, their flags are useless. However, particular symbols are often associated with certain nations, so that with its red cross, the Tongan flag might be mistaken for a banner that might belong to a canton of Switzerland.
The flags of some nations are literally identical to those of other countries, but are merely mirror images or inverse patterns. For instance the only difference between the flags of Indonesia and Poland (the Polish flag is on the right) is that the red and white horizontal stripes are transposed. It could be safely said that should either of these flags be raised, literally only the Indonesians and Poles might identify them correctly without having to guess and a fair percentage of them would probably get it wrong. Neither flag displays anything that signifies its origin, so as instantly recognisable symbols of those countries to the rest of the world, they are useless.
Even more crazy is the fact that the Indonesian flag and the Monaco flag are identical. How useless is this, when the citizens of those nations will never be sure whether it is their flag being raised or the identical flag of the other nation? The same goes for the flags of Holland and Luxembourg, both exactly the same.
Some flags are literally meaningless, such as the former flag of Libya, which was just plain green. For all it is was worth, it might as well have been a tablecloth. There was not even any symbology on it to give an inkling of which nation it represented.
In all honesty, the Australian flag really has nothing going for it, apart from its historical heritage and the patriotic fervour of some citizens to keep it as our emblem, no matter what. It certainly does not perform the function for which it is required, that is, to be universally recognisable as the flag of Australia to most people in the world. Therefore for purely logical reasons, the Australian flag should be changed for one that actually fulfils the required purpose, especially when Australia inevitably becomes a republic.
To determine the best design using logic and commonsense, just as was done with the Canadian flag, one must ask the following question. What is the one single most universally recognised symbol of Australia? There is only one answer - the kangaroo. Virtually every person in the world sees a kangaroo and immediately thinks of no other country but Australia, just as everybody recognises the Canadian flag because of the maple leaf symbol and the Israeli flag because of the Star of David. Therefore, the kangaroo would have to be the obvious choice to be the predominant symbol on a new Australian flag. The Southern Cross constellation could be added, however as other countries also use this symbol, it would really only be ornamental, but not fundamental to the recognition that is required of the Australian flag.
Green and gold have been adopted as Australia's national colours, so they would be the most popular choice. My suggestion for a new Australian flag would simply be a gold kangaroo on a green background with the Southern Cross in a corner. Such a design would fulfil all the required criteria, such as universal representation of all Australians from all backgrounds and races without any ethnic or racial overtones. Such a flag would be instantly recognised by literally everybody on Earth and very importantly, never confused with any other flag. Not only that, the design is uncluttered and devoid of complication.
Although many would want Australia's history to be expressed on a new flag, this would generate ill-feeling and divisiveness among others. For instance, some people have demanded the inclusion of the Aboriginal flag or its colours. This would be unacceptable to a great many people, as the Aboriginal flag represents only one particular minority group in Australia and is blatantly racist. No single race should be given any special significance or prominence, no matter what, as the new Australian flag must be an emblem representing all Australians.
Some have advocated the inclusion of the Union Jack to acknowledge our colonial history, however this would also raise a lot of hackles among sections of the Australia community, including many Aborigines, who hold the rather erroneous view that Australia was invaded by the British. A new Australian flag should look forward to the future, not be enmeshed with symbols of the past. A flag does not have to contain historical symbols to have significance, it merely has to represent the entire population with symbology that is broadly acceptable to everybody.
As stated before, a flag is not just for those it represents. Its prime purpose is to let the rest of the world recognise without doubt which country's banner it is. The current Australian flag certainly fails miserably in that role, however a new design with our unique Australian kangaroo symbol should be acceptable by all political and ethnic groups in Australia and would certainly let the rest of the planet know exactly what it is and what it means.
It is now time for that very important change to our image to the rest of the world and all logically minded and patriotic Australians should push for a new flag, such as my design described above.