Australian White Ensign

On 1 March 1967, the Australian National Line cargo ship Boonaroo was commissioned into the Royal Australian Navy. The Boonaroo was the first vessel commissioned under the Australian white ensign.

Before Federation, the Australian navies had flown the British blue ensign bearing the badge of the individual colony. Australian opinion favoured an Australian ensign but the Admiralty insisted on using the British white ensign. 

On 28 October 1965, the member for Batman, Mr Samuel James Benson MP, argued that Australia should have its own, distinctive white ensign. 

In January 1966, the Naval Board recommended a ‘white flag with the Union Flag in the upper canton at the hoist with six blue stars positioned as in the Australian flag’.

The minister for the Navy, Mr Frederick Charles Chaney MP, informed the prime minister of the Naval Board’s decision. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II granted formal approval on 7 November 1966. On 23 December 1966, Prime Minister Harold Holt announced the new ensign.