Australian National Flag Day commemorates the first occasion, on 3 September 1901, that the flag which became the Australian National Flag was flown. On that day, Prime Minister Edmund Barton announced the result of a worldwide competition to select a flag for the newly federated nation. From over 32,000 entries, equal f-rest place was awarded to five almost identical designs, which were submitted by an artist, an optician's apprentice, an architect, a ship's officer and a schoolboy.

The three elements in the flag's design each represent part of our heritage as a nation. The Union Jack acknowledges Australia's historical links with Great Britain. The seven-pointed Commonwealth Star symbolises the unity of Australia's six states and its territories. The Southern Cross, visible only in the skies of the Southern Hemisphere, is a reminder of Australia's location in the world.

In the 106 years since it was first unfurled, the Australian National Flag has been embraced by the Australian people and has become an expression of Australian identity. Today, it is flown at community buildings, business premises and private homes. It is carried in processions, waved at parades and displayed at public events. As Australia's foremost national symbol, it acts as a popular focus of pride in times of celebration and a powerful symbol of unity in times of sorrow.

Australian National Flag Day provides an opportunity to celebrate the significance and symbolism of our flag. I encourage you to mark Australian National Flag Day by flying or displaying the Australian National Flag on 3 September 2007.

(John Howard)

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