26 Jan 2016

Could this be Australia's next national flag?

10:02 am on 26 January 2016

The design, dubbed the Southern Horizon, was voted most popular in a survey of 8140 people conducted by Western Sydney University.

The survey offered respondents a choice of six alternative Australian flag designs. Of those who took part, 6427 chose a favourite flag.

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Photo: Western Sydney University

Dr Benjamin T Jones, who oversaw the survey, said the Southern Horizon garnered 31 percent of the vote, followed closely by the Reconciliation Flag, with 28 percent.

Other designs included in the survey were the well-known Eureka flag (15 percent), the Golden Wattle (12 percent), the Sporting flag (7 percent) and the Southern Cross flag (6 percent).

Dr Jones said the two most popular designs showed that respondents fell into two categories: those who wanted a neutral design with a link to the current flag, and those who wanted a flag that recognised Australia's Indigenous heritage.

"In many of the comments [from supporters of the Reconciliation Flag], an Indigenous element was an absolute must," he said.

"But there were many who said it must be a neutral flag, inclusive of all ethnicities."

He said Australians' connection to the flag had changed since the current design was adopted in 1901; it was subsequently altered in 1908.

"In one sense, it's an outdated thing," he said.

"We no longer take to battles needing a flag, it's more on sporting occasions... and to distinguish ourselves at international meetings.

"It's still a powerful signal with a lot of relevance ... but we've come an incredibly long way, and in some senses, it is the flag of the old British Empire."

Dr Jones said the flags included in the survey had all been suggested as alternative flags in the past and had different groups supporting them.

The survey was run from 16 December to 25 January.

Of the respondents, 64 percent said they believed the Australian flag should change, while 36 percent said it should remain the same.

"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," Dr Jones said.

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

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The second favourite choice: Reconciliation. Photo: Western Sydney University