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Flying & Use of the Flag
The Australian national flag may be flown on every day of the year. The following guidelines apply to the Australian national flags and flags generally.
Dignity of the Flag
The flag should be treated with the respect and dignity it deserves as the nation’s foremost national symbol.
The flag should not be allowed to fall or lie on the ground.
The flag should not be used to cover a statue, monument or plaque for an unveiling ceremony; to cover a table or seat; or to mask boxes, barriers or the space between the floor and the ground level on a dais or platform.
The flag should never be flown when in damaged, faded or dilapidated condition. When the material of a flag deteriorates to a point where it is no longer suitable for use, it should be destroyed privately, in a dignified way.
Flying and Handling
When flown in Australia or on Australia territory the Australian national flag takes precedence over all national flags.
The flag should not normally flown in a position inferior to that of any other flag or ensign.
The flag should not be smaller than that of any other flag or ensign.
The flag should be raised briskly and lowered ceremoniously.
The flag should always be flown aloft and free as close as possible to the top of the flag mast, with the rope tightly secured.
When the flag is raised or lowered, or when it is carried in a parade or review, all present should face the flag and remain silent. Those in uniform should salute.
The flag should be raised no earlier than the first light and should be lowered no later than dusk.
The flag may only be flown at night when illuminated.
Two flags should not be flown from the same flagpole.
The flag should not be flown upside down, not even as a signal of distress.
Displaying the Australian National Flag
Whether the flag is displayed flat against a surface (either horizontally or vertically), on a staff, on a flag rope, or suspended vertically in the middle of a street, the canton should be in the uppermost left quarter as viewed by a person facing the flag.
In the case of the Australian national flag, the Union jack should be seen in the top left quarter of the flag.
Even when the flag is displayed vertically, this rule must be followed, although to the casual observer the flag appears to be back to front. The reason for this is that the canton is the position of honour on the flag.
When the Australian national flag is displayed alone on a speaker’s platform, it should be flat against the wall or a staff on the right of the speaker as he or she faces the audience.
When displayed on flag rope (a ‘halyard’), the flag should be as close as possible to the top, with flag rope tight.
If the national flag is vertically suspended in an east-west street, the canton should be towards the north.
In a north-south street the canton should be towards the east.
Use of Flags on conference tables
Should it be decided to place the flags of nations on a conference table, a single flag representative of each nation present should be placed in front of the leader of that country’s delegation.
Flying the Australian National Flag alone
When the Australian national flag is flown alone on top of or in front of a building with two flagpoles , it should be flown on a flagpole to the left of a person facing the flag.
When flown alone on top of or in front of a building, with more than two flagpoles, the Australian national flag should be flown in the centre or as near as possible to it.
Flying the Australian National Flag with other National Flags
When the Australian national flag is flown with the flags of other nations, all the flags should, if possible, be the same size and they should be flown on flagpoles of the same height. National flags should never be flown together on the same flagpole. According to the international practice, no national flag should fly above another in peacetime.
The Australian national flag must however, take the position of honour. Further, unless all the flags can be raised and lowered simultaneously, the
When flying with only one other national flag, the Australian national flag should fly on the left of a person facing the flags.
In a line of a several national flags, and where there are an odd number of flags and only one Australian national flag is available, the Australian national flag should be flown in the centre.
If there is an even number of flags and only one Australian national flag is available, the Australian national flag should be flown on the far left of a person facing the flags.
If there is an even number of flags and two Australian national flags are available, one should be flown at each end of a line. The flagpoles must be uniform in height.
When crossed with another national flag, the Australian national flag should be on a left of a person facing the flag.
In a semi-circle of flags, the Australian national flag should be centre.
Flying the Australian National Flag with other State and Other Flags
When flying the Australian national flag with state flags and/ or other flags (such as local government flags, house flags and club pennants) in a line of flagpoles, the order of the flags should follow the rules of precedence. The Australian national flag should always be flown on the far left of a person facing the flags. With the exception of a flagpole fitted with a gaff, a house flag or a club pennant should never be flown above a national flag.
For example if the Australian national flag was being flown with a State flag, and a local government flag, the Australian national flag would be flown on the far left (the position of honour), the State flag to the right of it and the local government flag to the right of the State flag.
If there are two Australian national flags, one can be flown at each end of the line of flags.
In a single or double row of flagpoles, arranged at right angles from a structure, such as a building or memorial, the Australian national flag should be flown from the far-left flagpole nearest the kerb. If two Australian national flags are available the second flag should be flown on the right nearest kerb.
In a double row of flagpoles, where there is no formal focal point, such as building or memorial, the Australian national flag should be flown on the diagonal corners of the arrangement, with all other flags being arranged according to precedence as for a single row.
Flying the Australian National Flag on a Yardarm
When the Australian national flag is being displayed from a flagpole fitted with a yardarm and is flying with another national flag, the Australian national flag should be flown on the left of the yardarm and the flag of the other nation should be flown on the right of the yardarm as viewed by the person facing the flags.
If the Australian national flag is being displayed form a flagpole fitted with a yardarm and is flying with a State flag and a house flag or pennant, the Australian national flag should be flown from the top of the flagpole, the State flag on the left of the yardarm, and the house flag or pennant on the right yardarm, as viewed by a person facing the flags.
Flying the Australian National Flag on a Flagpole with a Gaff
If the flagpole is fitted with a gaff, the Australian national flag should be flown from peak of the gaff, which is the position of honour, even though the Australian national flag is then lower the flag flying form the top of the flagpole. This international tradition originates from the days of sailing ships, when it was necessary to keep the flag free of the ship’s rigging.
The next following position of prominence is the peak of the flagpole, then the left-hand side, as viewed from the front of the flagpole / gaff combination.
Flying the Australian National Flag and Red Ensign on Ships
The Shipping Registration Act 1981 confirmed the Australian red ensign as the flag to be flown by Australian-registered merchant ships. Either the Australian national flag or the red ensign can be flown by government ships, fishing vessels, pleasure craft, small craft and commercial vessels under 24 metres in tonnage length, but not both ensigns at the same time.
The rules for flying flags on non-defence ships are set out in sections 29 and 30 of the Shipping Registration Act 1981 and regulation 22 of the Shipping Registration Regulations. Foreign vessels may, as a courtesy, fly from the foremast either the Australian national flag or the Australian red ensign when berthed in an Australian port.
Carrying the Australian National Flag in a Procession
In a line of flags carried in single file, the Australian national flag should always lead. Flags are so that the right hand of the carrier is above the left hand.
In a line of flags carried abreast, it is preferable to have an Australian national flag carried at each end of line.
If however, only one Australian national flag is available, the following applies:
Flying the Australian National Flag at half-mast
Flags are flown in the half-mast position as a sign of mourning.
To bring the flag to the half-mast position, the flag must first be raised to the top of the mast (the ‘peak’) then immediately lowered slowly to the half-mast position. (This position is estimated by imagining another flag flying above the half-masted flag – in European mythology, the flag flying above is the flag of death.) The flag must be lowered to at least a position recognisably half-mast so that it does not appear simply to have slipped down from the top of the flagpole. An acceptable position would be when the top of the flag is a third of the distance down from the top of the flagpole.
When lowering the flag from a half-mast position, it should first be briefly raised to the peak, then be lowered ceremoniously.
Under no circumstances should a flag be flown at half-mast at night, whether or not the flag is illuminated.
There are occasions when direction will be given by the responsible Commonwealth government minister for all flags to be flown at half-mast.
Some examples of these occasions are:
Flags in any locality may be flown at half-mast on the death of a local citizen or on the day, or part of the day, of their funeral.