Skip to main content

Design of the Australian flag


The flag of Australia.

A New Zealand design?

New Zealander William Stevens, a ship’s officer on the SS Taieri, was one of five winners of a 1901 competition to design an Australian flag. The successful entrants reportedly submitted almost identical designs – ‘a Union Jack in the left hand top corner, a six pointed star beneath it (representing the six federated states of Australia), and the Southern Cross on the fly’. Newspapers at the time remarked that if the people of New Zealand changed their mind and decided to join the Commonwealth of Australia all that would need to be done to the flag would be ‘to place a seven-pointed star instead of a six-pointed one beneath the Union Jack’. In fact a seven-pointed star was adopted in 1908, to represent the Territory of Papua and any other territories subsequently incorporated in the Commonwealth. Stevens and the four winning Australian competitors each received £40, equivalent to about $7000 in 2015.

How to cite this page

Design of the Australian flag, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated