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Australian Customs Service - External Territories 1906-1975

Last modified: 2017-07-04 by ian macdonald
Keywords: australia | customs | southern cross |
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External Territory Customs flags

As Australian Territories, Papua and New Guinea had Customs Regulations (made under their Customs Ordinances) that prescribed Blue Ensign-based Customs flags from 1909 in Papua and 1928 in New Guinea until PNG independence on 16 September 1975. No Customs flag provisions were found in the previous Customs laws and Gazettes of British New Guinea/Papua, and German New Guinea.
Jeff Thomson, 3 July 2017


Territory of Papua Customs flag

Customs Regulations 1909; 30 November 1909.
Territory of Papua Government Gazette No 54, 13 December 1909, effective 1 July 1910.
Continued unchanged in Customs Regulations 1917 until these were repealed and replaced in November 1951.

2. The Customs Flag shall be the Flag of the Territory of Papua (Blue Ensign), with the addition in the fly of the letters "H.M.C." in black in bold character. The Flag of Papua was the British Blue Ensign with the 1906 PAPUA badge and although there was a reported 1930s Commonwealth Blue Ensign alternative, this has not been conclusively proven. Presumably the Customs versions were intended to have a black HMC on the badge disc below the word PAPUA. A post-war report from the Administrator in Port Moresby stated that there was no indication that these Customs flags were flown before the 1939-1945 war.
Jeff Thomson, 3 July 2017


Territory of New Guinea Customs flag

Customs Regulations 1928; No 84; 31 October 1928.
New Guinea Government Gazette No 215; 15 November 1928.
Repealed and replaced in November 1951.

2. The Customs Flag shall be the flag of the Commonwealth of Australia (Blue Ensign), with the addition in the fly of a white ball with the letters "T.N.G.C." in black in bold character. There is a 1949 letter to Mr. Karl Fachinger and a 1949 Australian Government report stating that the prescribed Customs flag was flown pre-war, but it is unclear exactly where the Customs badge was positioned. The relatively small badge sizes quoted (9 inches on a 36 inch flag and 24 inches on a 108 inch flag) suggest they were placed in the fly centre within an expanded Southern Cross. None of these flags nor any written information concerning them is known to have survived the Japanese occupation. The full stops shown in the prescription are unlikely to have been included on the actual flags.
Jeff Thomson, 3 July 2017


The Customs flag situation in the Territories 1942-1951

Civil administration of the two territories was suspended in 1942 due to the war. Under the post-war provisional administration 1945-1949 and the unified administration 1949-1975, both New Guinea and Papua Customs flag prescriptions remained in effect separately until unified Customs laws were made in November 1951. Reportedly during this time neither prescribed flag was flown, the undefaced Commonwealth Blue Ensign being used for all purposes including Customs.
Jeff Thomson, 3 July 2017

Territory of Papua and New Guinea Customs flag

Customs Regulations 1951; No 25; 15 November 1951
Papua and New Guinea Government Gazette No 65; 19 November 1951.
End date for this flag was 16 September 1975, PNG independence.

2. The Customs flag shall be the flag of the Commonwealth of Australia (Blue Ensign), with the addition in the fly of a white ball with the letters "T.P. & N.G.C" in black in bold character. There is no evidence that this flag was ever flown. Available reports from Port Moresby only cite the legislation without any mention of actual flag use. It is most likely that the undefaced Australian National Flag was flown as a Customs flag until replaced by the undefaced PNG National Flag at an unknown date, perhaps as early as 1971. There appears to be no way of finding exactly when the Customs flag prescription was 'editorially amended' to the (PNG) National Flag with a PNGC badge but it was sometime between late 1973 and 1 January 1986. The page on which the flag prescription appears has a footnote that says "Prepared for inclusion as at 1/1/1982'. Previous information that this flag ceased in 1965 appears to be based upon an undated letter sent from the Australian Department of Territories in 1964 to Mr. I.O. Evans of Surrey, England. The letter stated that the Customs flag letters were "T.P.N.G.C." but no such amendment to the Customs flag prescription has been found. Also the prescribed T.P. & N.G.C. defacement remained valid until independence because although known as Papua New Guinea from 1 July 1971, the full formal title of 'Territory of Papua and New Guinea' applied for legal and reporting purposes until independence.
[See Territory of Papua and New Guinea Customs Service Flag (1949-1952) for one possible reconstruction.]
Jeff Thomson, 3 July 2017


Nauru Customs flag

Although Nauru adopted the New Guinea Customs Ordinance 1921 with very little change in 1922, no Nauru Customs flag prescription has been found. But a report from the Administrator in 1949 stated that a Customs flag or Quarantine ensign was flown in the harbour launch, depending upon which officer was aboard. The Customs flag was described as the blue ensign with the letters "N.C." for Nauru Customs 'under the jack' suggesting that it was a Commonwealth Blue Ensign rather than a British Blue Ensign. A further report from Nauru in 1954 stated that neither flag had been flown for some years and it was not intended to revive them.
Jeff Thomson, 3 July 2017

Other External Territories

Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Norfolk Island have their own relatively brief Customs Ordinances and these do not contain Customs flag provisions.
Jeff Thomson, 3 July 2017
 
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