Historical information

Likely from WWI

Physical description

Pair of miniature flags on small black flag poles with wooden caps. The Australian Red Ensign, or the Australian Civil Ensign, is simply a red version of the Australian National flag. It is for use only at sea and officially never on land, but can be used by private citizens. At sea, it is the only flag allowable for merchant ships registered in Australia under the Navigation and Shipping Act 1912 and The Shipping Registration Act 1981. Pleasure craft, however, may fly either the Red Ensign or the National Flag.
The history of the Red Ensign is intertwined with the history of the Australian National flag. From 1901 to 1954 the Red Ensign was used as the National Flag by State and Local Governments, private organisations and individuals. The Blue Ensign was for Government use only, reflecting British practice with its ensigns.
The design of the Australian Red Ensign was always kept in step with the Blue Ensign (i.e. with respect to the number of points on the stars, etc.) but there was often public confusion about which was the `correct′ flag to fly. Many thought the choice was merely one of fashion or preference.
In 1941, Australia′s Prime Minister Robert Menzies stated that there should be no restrictions on private citizens using the Blue Ensign on land and, in 1947, Prime Minister Ben Chifley reaffirmed this position but it wasn’t until the passage of the Flags Act 1953 that the restriction on civilians flying the Blue Ensign was lifted after which, use of the Red Ensign on land became a rarity.
Since 2008, 3 September has been officially commemorated as both Australian National Flag/Merchant Navy Day which allows the Australian Red Ensign to be flown on land for the occasion as a matter of protocol.
The blue flag is the New Zealand National Flag.