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Four icons under threat: flag, Anzac Day, reef, bush

By Everald Compton - posted Thursday, 6 November 2014


No longer is anything sacred or certain or permanent.

Icons now have fleeting value and we are challenged either to defend them or create new ones that may adequately replace them.

With this in mind, I reckon it is worth our while to spend a moment looking at four of them.

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Flag

New Zealand will hold a referendum in 1916 to decide whether or not the Union Jack should be removed from their flag and replaced with something that symbolises their unique identity as an independent nation.

There is nothing strange about this, as the Canadians did it decades ago.

I have no doubt that the referendum will pass comfortably, as New Zealanders are an intensely proud nation. We only have to watch the way the All Blacks play Rugby Union, compared with the Wallabies, to see how much they honour and value the privilege of representing their country.

A crucial factor in the success of the referendum will be the role of New Zealand's immensely popular conservative Prime Minister, John Key, who is the instigator of the new flag proposal. People follow leaders and he is one.

It will be a much tougher task to get Australia to vote for a new flag. Resistance to change is almost inbred as a national trait.

The fact is that only a tiny fraction of referendum proposals have ever passed, and too many Aussies live in fear of cutting our ties with England.

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A significant factor in this has been the lack of leadership by our Prime Ministers, most of whom have felt that their political survival depended on maintaining the status quo.

I am enjoying John Howard's book on 'The Menzies Era,' as our former PM has blossomed from statesman to historian in eminent fashion.

One of the historical facts outlined in the book is Menzies' radio address to the nation when Britain declared war on Germany in 1939. He said: "Because Britain is at war, Australia is at war."

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About the Author

Everald Compton is Chairman of The Longevity Forum, a not for profit entity which is implementing The Blueprint for an Ageing Australia. He was a Founding Director of National Seniors Australia and served as its Chairman for 25 years. Subsequently , he was Chairman for three years of the Federal Government's Advisory Panel on Positive Ageing.

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