Many people do not realise that Australia has nine sanctioned official flags (more if the Vice-Regal and State and Territory flags are included). Each of these can be flown in particular circumstances.
The national flag, the 'Blue Ensign' is of course the one we claim as our own. At one time, however, that flag was reserved for official occasions only and private citizens flew the 'Red Ensign', which is now mostly seen flying from the masts of pleasure craft. The Aboriginal flag would also be recognised by most Australians, and the Torres Strait Island flag is also sanctioned.
But of course there is another flag – the Boxing Kangaroo – which is popular at sporting events. This is now an official trade mark of the Australian Olympic Committee, but the image it portrays has a history going back to 1891 when it became popular in advertising the country boxing competitions that travelled the country.
Daniel Lewis, writing in the Sydney Morning Herald , reports that the image became known when it graced RAAF P40 Kittyhawk fighters in Africa in World War II, and it gained further national icon status with Alan Bond's America's Cup victory in 1983.
and ... Jonathan King in his recent book Great Moments in Australian History.
Now the International Olympic Committee (IOC) wants the giant Boxing Kangaroo flag, that was draped over three stories of the Australian Winter Olympic accommodation area in Vancouver, to be removed.
Everyone is aghast. Even Deputy Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, as well as the leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott, have come out in favour of the Boxing Kangaroo. They have been supported by many Canadians and some Olympic officials.
The reason the IOC have said the Boxing Kangaroo flag needs to be removed is that it is a trade mark.
Mark Tronson asks "How else is a symbol such as the Boxing Kangaroo to be protected from the ravages of the corporate enterprisers?" In a parallel situation, the IOC flag is similarly protected and owned; but no-one is going to suggest that this flag be removed from Olympic events!!
To remove the Boxing Kangaroo flag now, would cause a popular uprising. It would presumably be banned at every future Olympic Games, summer or winter. Mark Tronson cannot see the Australian sporting public putting up with this! Moreover, will smaller versions of the Boxing Kangaroo flag be banned from each and every Olympic event? Where will it stop?