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History of the Australian national flag (Part 4)

Last modified: 2005-04-02 by
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The Flags Act

In 1941 Robert Menzies, the Prime Minister, announced that there should be no restriction on flying the Australian Blue Ensign, and in 1947 the Prime Minister, who was then Joseph Chifley, issued a press statement that actively encouraged its use by private citizens. [The Australian Flag [fol96] by Carol Foley] After the 1953 Flags Act, the situation was reversed, the 'blue ensign' became the only flag private citizens could fly on land, while the use of the Red Ensign on land were prohibited. This is still true today.
David Prothero and Miles Li, 12-15 Sep 2001

The 'Flags Act 1953' (Act No. 1 of 1954) was passed by the Commonwealth Parliament in November 1953 proclaiming definitively the Australian Blue Ensign as the national flag and the Australian Red Ensign as the proper colours for merchant ships registered in Australia.
David Cohen, 26 March 1999


Barraclough, in: Flags of the World, 1971 writes: (p.235) 'It was not until the passing of the Flags Act, 1953, that legislative effect was given to the use of the Blue Ensign. When the Bill was being drafted, the question of the shade of the blue color was raised. After due consideration, it was decided to adopt the shade of royal blue. Australians are indeed very proud of the fact that H.M. Queen Elizabeth II gave her personal assent to the Act on February 15th 1954, during her visit to Canberra, the Federal capital. This was an historic occasion of some importance in that it was the first Australian legislation to which a reigning sovereign had ever assented in Australia.'
Jarig Bakker, 29 Jul 1999

There is a scan of the Act including diagrams, the signatures of the Governor-General and The Queen of Australia here: http://www.foundingdocs.gov.au/places/cth/cth7/cth7_72_p6_1953.jpg
Colin Dobson, 28 Feb 2005

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