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Joint Service Flags (Australia)

Last modified: 2021-08-14 by ian macdonald
Keywords: australia | tri-service flag | boomerang | defence force |
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[Australian Defence Force Ensign] image by Miles Li, 6 Nov 2007

See also:

Defence Force Ensign (Tri-service Flag)

The "Australian Defence Force Ensign" has been proclaimed in Commonwealth of Australia Gazette Special Issue No. S190, Friday 14 April 2000, under Section 5 of the Flags Act as a "flag of Australia". This is similar to the gazettal of the Royal Australian Naval Ensign and more recently the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags.

I understand that the flag is the same as Flag 4 on page 29 (correction number 30) of Album des Pavillons [pay00]. It is a vertical tricolour of Dark Blue, Red, Light Blue with a large Joint Services Emblem in yellow in the centre, extending into the two blue bands. The Joint Services Emblem is a combination of a naval anchor, airforce wings, crossed army swords over a boomerang and a Commonwealth star as crest. In Album des Pavillons it is identified as both the flag of the Minister of Defence and the Joint Services Flag.

The flag has been used on such occasions as required to reflect joint facilities and joint services of the military, with the RAN ensign, RAAF ensign and Australian Blue Ensign used where only one military branch is involved. The most significant joint facility is the Defence Forces Officer Training Academy at Duntroon.
Ralph Kelly, 17 April 2000

In Album 2000 [pay00], the emblem is a mirror image of the one above.
Željko Heimer, 5 February 2001

Another aspect is that a statutory rule made under Section 7 of the Flags Act 1953 was also proclaimed specifying that the Australian Defence Force Ensign will take precedence over the Australian White Ensign and the Royal Australian Air Force Ensign. This aspect has upset Australian National Flag Association which has taken the view that the newly authorised ensign should not rank ahead of derivatives of the Australian National Flag.
Ralph Kelly, 18 April 2000

My initial reaction to this was that it was obvious that the flag should rank ahead of other ensigns, because the Defence Force as a whole ranks higher than each individual service, meaning that the problem ANFA have the arrangement is that a high ranking flag has been designed without using the 'normal Australian ensign template'

Then I thought again - the situation can be looked at differently. The white and RAAF ensigns could be seen as flags representing Australia, as used by the navy and air force respectively, rather than flags specifically representing the navy or the air force. This applies to the naval ensign more so than to the RAAF ensign, I suppose. This would make the navy and air forces's use of their ensigns more in line with the army's use of the blue ensign. In this case, the ensigns would appear to outrank the combined services flag, and ANFA's problem is not so much to do with how Australia is represented, but the fact that a flag representing the Defence Force, rather than Australia, is being given higher priority.
Jonathan Dixon, 19 April 2000

I suspect that although an official flag of Australia, the Australian Joint Forces flag couldn't be used on its own to represent Australia, whereas the Australian white and RAAF ensigns can, so the rank would be ambiguous in an international situation.
Graham Bartram, 19 April 2000

This flags was again proclaimed under Section 5, and the statutory rules issued under Section 7, on 25 January 2008, with effect from 1 October 2006. The Legislative Instruments Act 2003 required the originals to be lodged in a Federal Register, and due to an administrative oversight they were not, and they were automatically repealed.

The other 4 flags previously afforded the same status were re-proclaimed at the same time. One consequence of the Legislative Instruments Act, apart from the unintended repeal of the original proclamations, is to make all current legislative instruments enabled by the Flags Act available through the register at the Attorney-General's Department ComLaw site.
Jonathan Dixon, 23 June and 1 October 2008

The Australian Defence Force Ensign is similar to the British Joint Services Flag, but little information has been publicly released about it. Presumably the reason it is called an ensign is because in Australia, with most government flags based on British ensigns, the term 'ensign' has become associated with flags flown by government services on land as well as those worn by vessels and aircraft. Both the original Proclamation and Rules for this flag were made on 12 April 2000 under the Flags Act 1953 and were published together in Special Gazette S190 dated 14 April 2000. Both were automatically repealed on 1 October 2006. They can be found in Gazette GN16, 26 April 2000 which can be selected from the list at 
Jeff Thomson, 27 November 2019

Minister for Defence

According to Album 2000 [pay00], the Minister for Defence uses the joint services flag with proportions 2:3 as a car flag.
Željko Heimer, 5 February 2001

The RAAF Manual of Ceremonial, AAP 5135.002, which is downloadable at this Air Cadet Corps site, shows a vertical triband, 1:2, dark blue with a modern-style gold anchor, red with crossed swords, and light blue with the wedge-tailed eagle from the RAAF badge, also in gold. The footnote says this is used only as a car flag.
Joe McMillan, 22 November 2003

The RAAF Manual of Ceremonial probably includes a misinterpretation of the official specification. Note that the Army Ceremonial Manual (PDF) describes this flag as having the "Joint Service Emblem", in singular; in other words, the minister (and the minister assisting the minister) fly the so-called Australian Defence Force Ensign. Also, the Army Ceremonial Manual does not restrict its use to just car flags.
Miles Li, 10 November 2007

Joint Command Rank Flags

These flags come in two sizes: 90cm by 180cm, and (as car flags) 15cm by 23cm.
Miles Li, 6 November 2007

Chief of Defence Force

[Chief of Defence Force flag] image by Miles Li, 6 Nov 2007

According to Album 2000, the Chief of Defence Force's flag is a horizontally striped joint services flag with four five pointed stars in the bottom stripe.
Željko Heimer, 5 February 2001

This flag is flown with the Chief of Navy, Chief of Army and Chief of Air Force flags outside the Department of Defence in Canberra almost daily.
Miles Li, 27 February 2002

The RAAF Manual of Ceremonial, AAP 5135.002, which is downloadable at this Air Cadet Corps site, shows this flag for the Chief of Defence Force, but with the word "AUSTRALIA" below the boomerang in the badge. The footnote says this can be used as a car flag or as a masthead flag flown on "RAAF establishments, joint service lodger units or at the parade area to mark the appointment of the reviewing officer".
Joe McMillan, 22 November 2003

The Army Ceremonial Manual (PDF) says that the lettering mentioned by the RAAD Manual of Ceremonial (golden capital sans-serif letters "AUSTRALIA") is included only when the flag (whether in full-size or as a car flag) is flown outside Australia.
Miles Li, 10 November 2007

Vice Chief of Defence Force

[Flag of Vice Chief of Defence Force] image by Miles Li, 6 Nov 2007

This flag [the joint services flag with three gold stars beneath the emblem] is used by the Vice Chief of Defence Force.
(Source: Australian Army Ceremonial Manual, Volume 1, Annex E to Chapter 22, available as a PDF file.)
Miles Li, 6 November 2007

Vice Chief of Defence Force if of four star rank

[Flag of Vice Chief of Defence Force if of 4 star rank] image by Miles Li, 7 Oct 2005

In October 2005, Miles Li reported that this flag [the joint services flag with four gold stars beneath the emblem] is used by the Vice Chief of the Defence Force if they are of 4 star rank. On 6 November 2007, he stated that the image is not the correct flag, noting that at the moment there is only one active four-star officer for the Australian Defence Force — the Chief of the Defence Force. Željko Heimer asks whether the flag used depends on whether the Vice Chief has 3 or 4 star rank.

Joint Commander 2 Stars

[Flag of Joint Commander 2 Stars] image by Miles Li, 6 Nov 2007

This flag [the joint services flag with two gold stars beneath the emblem] is used only by major generals (army) commanding joint services institutions; it is currently used by Commander, Australian Defence College.
Miles Li, 8 November 2004

Joint Commander 1 Star

[Flag of Joint Commander 2 Stars] image by Miles Li, 6 Nov 2007

This flag [the joint services flag with a gold star beneath the emblem] is flown only by Army Brigadiers holding joint appointments and not otherwise entitled to fly another flag.
Miles Li, 6 November 2007