PM says the current flag will fly over Parliament House ‘long after all us have shuffled off the stage of history’
Australia’s flag will never change, Malcolm Turnbull has said, dismissing a new design that drops the Union Jack.
The not-for-profit group Ausflag released a new design on Friday, telling Australia it was time to “grow up” and shed symbols of British dominance.
The group’s executive director, Harold Scruby, rejected criticism of the timing of its release, saying Australia Day was the perfect opportunity for such a debate.
“For those idiots who tell us we shouldn’t be debating it on this day, it’s the lowest form of censorship,” Scruby, told Guardian Australia. “On what day should we debate it? Maybe Bastille Day? Or American Independence Day?”
The new design makes a simple but fundamental change to the flag. The Union Jack is dropped, replaced with the Commonwealth Star and an enlarged Southern Cross, against a dark navy background.
Ausflag described the design as minimalist and “evolutionary”, celebrating egalitarianism over aristocracy, and independence over dominance.
Scruby said the current flag symbolised Australia as a British colony.
“The first point is we need Specsavers because we, as a nation, have a serious case – the thing is almost incurable – of myopia,” he said. “The emperor stands before us completely naked and no one sees the Union Jack.”
He said it was almost beyond belief that Australia was one of only three nations in the commonwealth clinging to such a flag.
“It’s almost unbelievable and the minute you bring it up people shout you down almost as if it’s heresy. And I say, ‘Didn’t we change the national anthem in 1984?’”
But Turnbull immediately dismissed the campaign, saying he could not see a time when the flag would ever change.
Turnbull was once a director of Ausflag, but quit the organisation in 1994. He later joined the Australian National Flag Association, which seeks to preserve the current flag.
On Friday, Turnbull said young Australians did not see the Union Jack as representative of another country.
“That’s the one they have on their backpacks when they’re travelling overseas, that’s the flag that our soldiers have on their shoulder patches, that is our flag,” he said.