Australian National Flag Day is a special opportunity for us all to fly the flag and to celebrate being Australian.

In 1901, five very similar designs were selected as the winners of a competition to choose our national flag. The people who created these designs were an artist, a school boy, an optician’s apprentice, an architect and a first officer from a steamship company. This diverse range of people reflects the interest and passion of the Australian community at that time about creating the most important symbol for our nation.

Today’s Australians share this interest and enthusiasm. We increasingly value the sense of pride and respect for our nation that the flag represents as part of a growing interest within the community not only about our history and traditions, but about what it means to be an Australian.

The flag represents the values that we can all agree on as a people. We are a nation that values decency and fair play, compassion and optimism. Whether in sporting competition or in times of national sorrow, the flag stands as a symbol of our national unity and pride. When I attended the ANZAC Day service in Gallipoli in 2001, I was moved to see the number of young Australians there, carrying the flag or wearing images of the flag on their clothing and hats. Occasions such as this not only express an increasing sense of confidence in who we are as Australians, but a desire to connect with our history and the values that we hold in common as a nation.

I hope you will join with me in celebrating today the 103rd anniversary of our Australian National Flag.

John Howard

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