- Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia
In Australia, English is the national language only in an informal sense, by numbers and by historical and contemporary association. The Australian Constitution does not explicitly define the status of the English language, although the Constitution is written in English, as is all Commonwealth legislation.
Pakistan and Finland are among the nations which have a national language clause in their Constitutions. A number of US states have passed English language amendments including article 3 section 6 of the California Constitution which provides: "English is the common language of the people of the United States of America and the State of California."
Australia Day is an official public holiday in every state and territory of Australia, and is marked by the Order of Australia and Australian of the Year awards, along with an address from the Prime Minister. Celebrated annually on January 26th, the day commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove in 1788, and the Foundation of Australia.
Although it was not known as Australia Day until over a century later, being previously known as Anniversary Day and Foundation Day, records of celebrations on January 26th date back to 1808, with Governor Lachlan Macquarie having held the first official celebration of the formation of New South Wales in 1818.
In 1988, the celebration of Australian Bicentenary was organised on a large scale, with many significant events taking place in all major cities. Over 2.5 million people attended the Australia Day celebrations in Sydney which included street parties, concerts, including performances on the steps and forecourt of the Sydney Opera House and at many other public venues, art and literary competitions, historic re-enactments, and the opening of the Powerhouse Museum at its new location. A re-enactment of the arrival of the First Fleet took place in Sydney Harbour, with ships that had sailed from Portsmouth a year earlier taking part.
Since 1988 participation in Australia Day has increased and in 1994 all States and Territories began to celebrate a unified public holiday on the actual day for the first time. In 2004, an estimated 7.5 million people attended Australia Day celebrations and functions across the country, and a Newspoll that asked if the date of Australia Day should be moved to one that is not associated with European settlement, found 79 per cent of respondents favoured no change, 15 per cent favoured change and 6 per cent were uncommitted.
The advent of a flag for the newly federated Australian nation was at the Royal Exhibition Buildings on 3 September 1901, when the names of the joint winners of the Australian government's "federal flag design competition" were announced by Hersey, Countess of Hopetoun (the wife of the Governor-General, the 7th Earl of Hopetoun); upon her entrance, a huge blue flag with a Southern Cross, a six pointed star and a Union Jack thereon was run up to the top of the flagstaff on the dome, streaming out into the heavy south-westerly breeze - it was, according to the Melbourne Age, "a brave and inspiring" sight.
A simplified version of the competition-winning design was officially approved as the Flag of Australia by King Edward VII in 1902.
The "Australian Blue Ensign" as it was then known replaced the Union Jack at the Olympic Games at St Louis in 1904.
In the same year, due to lobbying by Senator Richard Crouch, it had the same status as the Union Jack in the UK, when the House of Representatives proclaimed that the Blue Ensign "should be flown upon all forts, vessels, saluting places and public buildings of the Commonwealth upon all occasions when flags are used".
In 1908 the Blue Ensign replaced the Union Jack at all military establishments. From 1911 it was the saluting flag of the Australian army at all reviews and ceremonial parades.
The Blue Ensign formally replaced the Union Jack as the "Australian National Flag" upon commencement of the Flags Act 1953 (Cth) on 14 April 1954. The Act confers statutory powers on the Governor-General to appoint 'flags and ensigns of Australia' and authorise warrants and make rules as to use of flags. Section 8 ensures that the 'right or privilege' of a person to fly the Union Jack is not affected by the Act.
South Australia chose to continue with the Union Jack as National flag until 1956, when schools were given the option of using either the Union or Australian flags.
Among the objections to the Flags Amendment Act 1998 is that it would require a costly plebiscite should there be a desire to bring the Commonwealth Star on the Australian National Flag into line with any future changes in membership of the Australian Federation.
The proposed National Holiday, Language and Flag Bill would see a description of the Australian National Flag incorporated into the Constitution Act; the Flags Act 1953 (Cth), sans sections 3(2) and (3), would remain on the statute books, to provide the construction sheet of the design spelled out in terms of its essential elements in the law that describes how the government operates. The device occupying the lower hoist is styled a "large white Commonwealth Star", meaning the shape of what is now a well known piece of Australian Heraldry in its own right could, therefore, be altered by the agreement of both houses of the federal parliament alone, depending on the political situation. The only previous change to the Commonwealth Star as it appears on the Australian National Flag was, in 1908, introduced by the stroke of a pen.
We, the undersigned, call on the Commonwealth parliament to pass the National Language, Holiday and Flag Bill.
To approve the changes to the Constitution proposed in the Constitution Amendment (National Language, Holiday and Flag) Constitutional Amendment Bill, to declare English to be the national language, 26 January in each year to be Australia Day and a certain flag to be the Australian National Flag.
Constitution Amendment (National Language, Holiday and Flag) Constitutional Amendment Bill
An Act to amend the Constitution to declare English to be the national language, 26 January in each year to be Australia Day and a certain flag to be the Australian National Flag.
1. The short title of this Act is the National Language, Holiday and Flag Act
2. The Constitution is amended by the insertion of section 127, 127A and 127B as set out below:
Section 127 - Status of English Language
English is the national language of Australia.
Section 127A - National Holiday
26 January in each year shall be Australia Day, being the anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788.
Section 127B - Australian National Flag
A blue flag with the Union Jack occupying the upper hoist, a large white Commonwealth Star in the centre of the lower hoist and 5 white stars representing the Southern Cross constellation in the fly half.
The Support the National Language, Holiday and Flag Bill petition to Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia was written by Nigel Morris and is in the category Miscellaneous at GoPetition.