Australian flags not lowered for Nelson Mandela's death

Unlike in the United States and United Kingdom, Australia's national flag on Parliament House remained at full mast on Friday.

The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet confirmed on Friday the Australian flag – including the huge one above Parliament House – was to be lowered for the funeral of a head of state of another country with which Australia has diplomatic relations, but not for the funeral of a former head of state.

However, Prime Minister Tony Abbott later announced flags would be flown at half mast for the funeral.

On Friday the flags at Downing Street and the White House were already at half-mast as a sign of respect for the death of the South African freedom fighter.

United States President Barack Obama ordered that flags on US government buildings, ships at sea and installations be lowered to half mast through to sunset on Monday, in a rare honour for a foreign leader.

On Friday, the South African high commission lowered its flag to half mast.

The flag at the British high commission in Canberra was not changed, however flags were lowered to half-mast at its neighbour diplomatic missions, the high commissions of New Zealand and Canada.

He issued a statement earlier on Friday saying Mr Mandela would forever be remembered as more than a political leader.

‘‘He was a moral leader, he spent much of his life standing against the injustice of apartheid,’’ Mr Abbott said.

The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet issues Commonwealth Flag Network Notices for federal government departments and agencies.

The six most recent notices regarding the half-masting of flags were:

  • Remembrance Day, November 11, 2013;
  • the state funeral for David Scott Thomson, a former federal minister, on November 4, 2013 (for action in the ACT, Qld and NSW only);
  • the state funeral for Godfrey Eugene ‘‘Rusty’’ Priest, a former member of the NSW parliament, on October 2, 2013 (for action in NSW only);
  • he state memorial service for James Halford Ramsay, a former member of the Victorian Parliament, on September 10, 2013 (for action in Victoria only);
  • the state funeral service of Alan John Hunt, a former member of the Victorian Parliament, on July 22, 2013 (for action in Victoria only); and
  • the state memorial service of William Michael Hodgman, a former federal minister, on July 3, 2013 (for action in the ACT and Tasmania only).

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