A Mas Fina T-Shirt featuring a recreation of the original “These Colours Don’t Run” stencil poster made by the Australian Department of Munitions, Melbourne, in 1942.
Australia’s flag has already changed many times and our present flag dates from only 1953. From the middle of the nineteenth century, a growing Australian nationalism brought forth many unofficial flags – all of them incorporating the constellation of the Southern Cross (Crux Australis), which was universally accepted as the emblem of the Great South Land. In 1901 the new Federal Government organised a competition for a new flag – one for “official” or Government use, and one for the “merchant” service (i.e. citizens at sea). The judging and approval process were such that only a British Ensign with a badge representative of Australia was likely to be a winner. The winning design for the merchant flag was based on the British Red Ensign, and the winning design for the official Government flag was based on the British Blue Ensign.For many years there was considerable misunderstanding in Australia and in other countries with regard to the use of the Australian flags. During World War II, Prime Minister Menzies issued a directive that there should be no restriction on the flying of the “Commonwealth Blue Ensign”, and Prime Minister Chifley gave his support to that view in 1947. In 1953, by means of a Commonwealth Act of Parliament – the Flags Act 1953 – the “British Blue Ensign” was proclaimed the national flag. Only since then has it had seniority over the Union Jack.