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New England (Australia)

Last modified: 2024-03-16 by ian macdonald
Keywords: australia | new england | lion | southern cross | stars: southern cross |
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New England Statehood Movement

[New England Statehood Movement flag] [Proposal] image by António Martins, 14 Feb 1998

Many people within the New England area (northern New South Wales) supported New England becoming a separate state. A referendum on the matter held in 1967 narrowly failed and New England has remained part of the state of New South Wales ever since, although there has been the occasional rumble. Accompanying the article is a black and white photo of the New England New State movement flag. The flag features what looks like a lion standing upright holding a sword with the words "New England" on a scroll underneath.
Zane Whitehorn, 6 February 2001

The lion holds the sword with a gauntletted paw. The background is light blue, and the lion and sword are yellow.
Source: the 1976 French edition of Smith's Flags through the Ages and Across the World [smi76]
António Martins, 28 February 2001

With the reigniting of the New England State movement in 1948 largely by the efforts of cattleman Phillip A. Wright, the new executive sought to create a stronger link between New England and Old England. This was achieved through the adoption of a new symbol, the rampant lion, and the creation of a new flag in July 1952. As described by the executive member of the NESM, Ulrich Ellis, in the Glen Innes Examiner:
"The banner depicts a golden lion rampant against a royal blue background, with a seven-pointed gold star in the corner to represent New England as the seventh star on the Australian flag… In heraldry, the lion symbolised nobleness of nature, courage and generosity…The New England Lion is rampant because he typifies the exasperation of northern people at the failure to develop their resources. He carries a sword to indicate their intention to continue the fight for self-government."

It's unclear from the available newspapers of the time if this design was adopted or not. It appears this design was proposed, as in October 1954 the Sydney Morning Herald had provided coverage for the movement's new attempts at pushing for statehood. In that article, it mentions that along with the Golden Lion Rampant that the NESM:
"... will soon fly their own flag (yellow lion on pale blue)."

In early December of 1954, the final version of the flag would be officially revealed at the New England New State Convention in Inverell. Reported on by The Inverell Times After unveiling the design, executive member Mrs Thelma Kirkby said:

"The act of unfurling this flag was a very simple one, but I hope the flag we have just unfurled will soon be the symbol of Statehood. We do know that we have unfurled another banner for democracy, because everything this movement does counters forces of totalitarianism and bureaucracy. This flag will be a sign that we have looked to the past, and that our movement is based on all that is best in the British tradition and the British way of life."

With the failure of the 1967 referendum on whether or not New England should become its own state, the NESM largely declined in popularity in the decades following. As described by Paul Turton the NESM had a small reemergence in 2004, but the movement has not been able to rebuild the popular support it once had in the 50s and 60s. The most recent attempt to create a New England state was in 2005 by former public servant Ian Johnstone to who had proposed this flag design for New England if it was created. This would be alongside 3 other states he wished to create. For those who are curious their flags would have looked like this

So far as I know the lion flag adopted in 1954 is still the most popular flag for a new state, however, the chances of it becoming a thing in 2023 seem highly unlikely.

Jayden Davis-Tope, 21 February 2024


Mid-2000s proposal

[New England Statehood Movement flag] image located by Jonathan Dixon, 10 March 2016

At www.newstates.net is a new proposal for a flag of a New England state. I think the site is run by someone supporting New England statehood, and I remember someone associated with the New England statehood movement appearing in the Sydney Morning Herald after holding a debate at the NSW parliament house. The accompanying photo showed the proposed New England flag from that site.

Their page about New England, archived here, says:

Both the proposed New State flag for New England and River-Eden are loosely based on the "National Colonial Flag for Australia"
...

All proposed New State house-flags have replaced the Union Flag in the first canton with a stylised "Union Pennant" on the hoist.

While the pennant is clearly derived from the Union Flag, it no longer takes up all of the Canton (first quarter of prominence), it is slightly reduced, (from a full quarter to about a fifth), and could no longer be described as a British Ensign of any sort. Its shape can be seen to acknowledge and honour a British heritage yet points towards an independent future as evidenced by the now dominant remainder of the flag.

The central device of the flag is a red cross ending in a seven-pointed star (the seventh state), at the three points where it rests against the white background. This red cross could variously be seen as the cross of St George (Old England), a stylised Southern Cross, a red Eureka flag or derived from the badge of the mother state, New South Wales.

At the centre of the cross is a crowned gold lion rampant bearing a sword (the traditional New England symbol). This differs from the NSW badge in that the NSW lion passant, (passive), is now actively demanding the rites of separate statehood.

Concerning the previous new state movement flag, the site says "If you were part of that movement and if you still have that flag, you should also fly it proudly. Both flags should be actively promoted as symbols of the New State movement on various merchandise items."
Jonathan Dixon, 5-6 December 2005

This flag was indeed designed by Ian Johnston, who also created the new states website. It was pictured in a Sydney Morning Herald report on support for New England statehood, http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2005/01/24/1106415528397.html.

The design is not entirely clear from the explanation of symbolism quoted above. Rather than placing a Union Jack in the canton, Ian has used about a quarter of the Union Jack at full size in a triangular section at the hoist (the vertical centreline of the UJ being placed at the hoist of this flag. The rest of the field is white, with a red cross, of which one arm merges seamlessly with the St George's cross of the UJ portion, and the other three arms end in a red seven pointed star in a similar style to modern Eureka flags. In the centre is a yellow lion with sword, taken from the flag used by the New England Statehood Movement in the 1960s.

Ian used a similar triangular Union Jack portion approach for flags of other proposed states on the newstates.net site, but I expect the New England design is where it started.
Jonathan Dixon, 10 March 2016


1931 proposal

[New England Statehood Movement flag] image located by Jayden Davis-Tope, 21 February 2024

As described by the Nambucca and Bellinger News on the 6th of March, 1931 (https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/214635139):

"An emblem for the New England Separation movement was presented to Dr. Earle Page, M.H.R., by the people of Wauchope. It took the form of a flag for New England - a British Blue Ensign, bearing a red crescent with a white lozenge and seven-pointed star superimposed. The white lozenge symbolises honor, and the seven points of the star represent the six existing States of the Federation, together with the New unit of New England."

It's unclear what exactly happened to the flag. As the movement's widespread appeal in rural NSW began to wane in the 20s, when it became dormant in the decades following it seems the flag fell out of use and/or was forgotten.

Jayden Davis-Tope, 21 February 2024


 
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