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Flag of Tasmania

The current state flag of Tasmania was officially adopted following a proclamation by Tasmanian colonial Governor Frederick Aloysius Weld on September 25, 1876, and was first published in the Tasmanian Gazette the same day. The governor's proclamation here were three official flags, they being the Governor's flag, the Tasmania Government vessel flag, and a Tasmania merchant flag. Up until 1856 when Tasmania was granted responsible self-government, the Union flag and the British ensign were primarily used on state occasions.

The flag consists of a defaced British Blue Ensign with the state badge located in the fly. The badge is a white disk with a red lion passant in the centre of the disk. There is no official record of how the lion came to be included on the flag. Where this design originated from is unknown, but it is assumed that the red lion is a link with England. This flag has remained almost unchanged since 1875, with only a slight change of the style of the lion when the flag was officially adopted by the government in 1975, although this was a mistake, as it had already been officially gazetted by the colonial government in 1876.


Following the establishment of a permanent British colony in Tasmania (then called Van Diemen's Land) on September 8, 1803 the Union Flag was officially used to represent British sovereign possession of the islands of Tasmania. Tasmania was granted responsible self-government in 1856, but the colony did not receive its own flag until Queen Victoria had first proposed on August 7, 1869, that the colony of Tasmania (and the other Australian colonies) should adopt a Union flag defaced in the centre with the State Badge.

The first local flag of Tasmania was adopted by proclamation of Tasmanian colonial Governor Frederick Aloysius Weld on November 9, 1875. The flag had a white cross on a blue field, in the canton was the Union Flag, and in the fly was five five-pointed stars of the Southern Cross. The British Blue Ensign and Red Ensign (for use respectively by government vessels and by those privately owned) were to have a white cross added. At the fly end of each flag a Southern Cross was to be formed of white stars added above and below the horizontal arm of the cross. Two weeks later, on November 23, those flags were officially abandoned because Henry Herbert, 4th Earl of Carnarvon, the Secretary of State for the Colonies in London made it clear that only a single badge could be placed at the fly end of the ensign, as set out by rule of the British Admiralty.

A year later the Tasmanian government decided, with the British Admiralty’s approval, that the badge for the colony would be a red lion on a white disk. Originally the lion was to be gold in colour, above a golden torse, which the new flag omitted in favour of a more traditional red.

A British Blue Ensign with the badge served Tasmanian government vessels, and privately owned vessels were to fly an un-defaced British Red Ensign. After Tasmania became a state on January 1, 1901, the Tasmanian Blue Ensign was rarely used, and was reserved for official purposes. Most vessels soon preferred to fly the Australian Red Ensign.

On December 3, 1975, a government proclamation by Governor Stanley Burbury, and endorsed by Premier Bill Neilson established it as the official Tasmanian flag, although it had technically already been 'officially' adopted when it was gazetted in 1876. Since that time it has been acceptable for private citizens to use the flag, although it is uncommon to see them doing so.


The flag of Tasmania has two distinct symbols, the Union Flag (also known as the Union Jack), and the State Badge of Tasmania.

As with the Flag of Australia, the Union Flag is thought locally to symbolise Australia's history as six British colonies and the principles upon which the Australian Federation is based, Australian Flag Society although a more historic view sees its inclusion in the design as demonstrating loyalty to the British Empire.


Unlike the national flag, the flag of Tasmania is not enshrined and protected by any acts of state or Commonwealth government. As a result, there are no official legal requirements for the construction of the flag of Tasmania. However tradition and decorum dictate that is should be:

  1. the Union Jack occupying the upper quarter next the staff;
  2. the fly is to be wholly blue, in line with the British Blue Ensign;
  3. the State Badge is to be situated with its centre halfway between the edge of the canton and the end of the fly, and a third of the distance from the bottom of the flag;


The colours of the flag, although not specified by the Flags Act, have been given the same Pantone specifications as the national flag. The Australian Government's Style Manual for Authors, Editors and Printers also gives CMYK and RGB specifications for depicting the flag in print and on screen respectively.
Scheme Blue Red White
Pantone 280 C 185 C Safe
CMYK 100%-80%-0%-0% 0%-100%-100%-0% 0%-0%-0%-0%

Governor's Flag

The Governor of Tasmania, being the representative of the Tasmanian head of state, the Queen of Australia, is officially granted a flag for use on all official occasions. It is identical in design and construction to the flag of Tasmania, except that it features a St. Edward's Crown above the badge to represent vice-regal power. When the Governor of Tasmania is resident at Government House it is flown from the roof, and it is also used as a car flag. The Governor of Tasmania's flag was officially adopted in February 1977 by an act of the Parliament of Tasmania.

Proposed alternatives

The flag of Tasmania has always been quite popular amongst the people of Tasmania, and as such changing the flag has been debated there less than in other parts of the country. Tasmanians have historically felt a strong attachment to the United Kingdom, and are often proud that their flag portrays a traditional bond with Britain.

Despite this, on November 18, 1987 Tasmanian Senator Dr. Bob Brown, then a member of the Tasmanian House of Assembly in the Parliament of Tasmania, called for changes to the flag, stating:

The thylacine should replace the red lion of Tasmania's flag. There's nothing Tasmania about the flag. The design may have been relevant to the colony but it is irrelevant to Tasmania in 1987. The only lions ever to come here were in circuses. The Government's decision to hang on to the lion is out of keeping with the times - especially when the State is pushing its unique Tasmania image to the rest of the world and planning to give the Tasmania tiger prominence in tourism promotion.|The Tasmanian Flag. By Reg Watson

Despite this, there was no further action to change the flag. In fact Dr. Brown's call led to a backlash, with Reg Watson, the Public Relations Officer of the Australian National Flag Association (TAS) calling for an act of parliament to prevent the flag from being changed without the consent of the people through a referendum.

Another call was made to change the flag in 1992, by Liberal Member, Bob Mainwaring. He called for the lion to be replaced with a Cape Barren Goose, as a more recognisably local symbol.

More recently, Ausflag has been vigourously prompting debate that all British symbolism should be removed from both the national and state flags. Other organisations, such as the Australian National Flag Association oppose this view. The Australian flag debate is often linked with Republicanism in Australia and the Australian Republican Movement, but the two are not mutually exclusive. Some people want the flag changed without a change of system of government.

One suggestion has been to change the Tasmanian flag to an alternative design which does not feature the Union Flag in the canton, but is rather more similar to the Australian territorial flags which feature a southern cross on the whole left side, and a localised symbol in the fly. A proposed design by Brendon Jones, featured , suggested a green map of Tasmania on a white fly, with the southern cross on the left in white, on a red background.

On September 24, 1996, Independent Member of the Tasmanian House of Assembly, Bruce Goodluck moved a motion that read:

That the Government introduce Legislation to ensure that the Tasmanian Flag cannot be changed without the approval at a referendum or plebiscite. This means that no politician, no political party and no special interest group will be able to tamper with the design of our State flag.|The Tasmanian Flag. By Reg Watson

The motion was endorsed by both the Liberal and Labor Parties and passed, meaning the current flag will remain the vexilogical symbol of Tasmania for the foreseeable future.


See also

External links

National and regional flags incorporating the Union Flag
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