Australian Flag

House of Representatives
Monday 30 August 2021

In today's debate in the House, we are recognising and celebrating the centenary of the Australian national flag—the 120th anniversary that occurs this Friday, 3 September. We honour the ideals for which our national flag stands, including our history, geography and unity as a federated nation, and we note that this is the world's only national flag to ever fly over one entire continent. We acknowledge that our flag has been Australia's pre-eminent national symbol in times of adversity, war, peacetime and prosperity. We further recognise that our flag now belongs to the Australian people and has been an integral part of the expression of our national pride. We express our respect for the Australian national flag as a symbol of our profound achievements as a federation, of our independence and freedom as a people, and of our optimism for a common future together.

Who would have thought, when the 32,823 entrants, the men, women and children at the time, in 1900-1901, who helped design our flag, that they would see our society and our nation as it is today? Sir Edmund Barton announced the five winning entrants: Ivor Evans, Leslie Hawkins, Egbert John Nuttall, William Stevens and, the only woman to win, Annie Dorrington. I can only imagine what they would think of this building, this chamber and what we're discussing today when they sat down with their ink and paper to look at how Australia would be and what we would become. Two hundred pounds, the prize money, was a lot of money back then, and it had to be shared by the five of them. But it was a lot of money going into a very significant moment of our history.

The Australian flag is special, and it represents our country's values, its diverse people, its triumphs and its challenges throughout history. I want to focus in my remarks today on the flags that fly in this building and this parliament that I am standing in. We all know that as members we have the honour of being presented with these flags, a special occasion that occurs, by the Speaker. I had the opportunity to present one of these flags, which flew for the first time in this place on 15 August 2015—my parents' wedding anniversary—to Colonel Mark Smith, who was serving in Afghanistan. He proudly flew that flag in Afghanistan.

I remember entering this chamber for the first time and being sworn in, which was exactly five years ago today, 30 August—the member for Fisher, the member for Tangney, the member for Goldstein and I—and I remember looking at those flags and being in awe of what they represented, and how I was part of that story as well.

So I presented that flag, and it flew at Camp Qargha. I was so pleased that it was to a member of our ADF who was serving at the time, and I've reflected on that interaction specifically over the past few weeks. That flag was flown on Anzac Day in 2020 at Camp Qargha. The member for Fisher and I had the privilege of visiting Afghanistan in 2017. Then, that flag continued its journey where I presented it to St Joseph's Primary School at Corinda. I encouraged the students at that important ceremony to think of Colonel Smith, who is a father at that school, and all the service people like him who exemplify our proud Australian values of courage, mateship and selflessness.

Our values and our freedom are hard-won through the sacrifices of those who chose to serve our country, like my father, the late Allan Baxter Dick, who served under that flag in World War II. Our flag represents not only their sacrifice but the millions of diverse Australians who everyday benefit from their protection. I'm proud to support this motion today, but I'm also proud to support our nation's flag.