Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop (pictured in Manilla last month) has denied there is any wish to change the Australian flag.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop (pictured in Manilla last month) has denied there is any wish to change the Australian flag. Photo: Romeo Ranoco

The Abbott government will not be following the example of New Zealand's conservative Prime Minister John Key, who wants to remove the Union Jack from his country's flag.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told BBC radio she thought there was “no great demand” to change Australia's flag and her government would not consider doing so.

“I am about to meet with Foreign Secretary William Hague and Defence Secretary Philip Hammond, I'm not going to start talking about removing the Union Jack from the Australian flag,” said Ms Bishop, who is visiting London and meeting with UK government leaders.

The flags of New Zealand (left) and Australia.

The flags of New Zealand (left) and Australia. Photo: AP

“That invites the assumption you rather like the idea you're just scared of telling them,” the interviewer suggested.

“Well I had a very enjoyable meeting with Her Majesty the Queen last evening and I didn't raise the matter of the flag there either,” Ms Bishop said.

“Believe it or not it's not an issue that actually draws much attention in Australia.

“I believe we will stick with the flag, there's no great demand to change it and many Australians have fought and died under that flag, sadly.

“We have competed in Olympic Games under that flag and there's a sense of pride in it. It also contains the Southern Cross, so that's a very Australian part of the flag.”

The New Zealand Prime Minister, Mr Key, has promised that if his government is re-elected in September he will allow the public to decide in a referendum whether it wants to change the national flag.

Mr Key would prefer New Zealand replace the Union Jack with a silver fern on a black backdrop.

Labor appears to agree with Ms Bishop, showing little interest in engaging in a debate about changing Australia's flag.

Asked his views on Wednesday, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten told Perth radio station 6PR he was "not keen" to change Australia's flag.

"I think our flag reflects our history," he said.

"The republic's a different issue, but ... I think that's one which the people of Australia sort of have to show a level of interest in."

Mr Shorten said Australia would remain a monarchy unless there was bipartisan support for the republican movement.

"But on our flag I would keep it as it is."

With Australia expected to have Liberal governments in every state and territory bar the ACT after the Tasmanian and South Australian elections this weekend, it appears unlikely that a flag debate will be driven any time soon by state leaders.

South Australian Liberal leader Steven Marshall, who is expected to end 12 years of Labor government on Saturday, told ABC radio he did not believe Australia needed a new flag.

“I think John Key is entitled to his position regarding the New Zealand flag but I don't think there's any push currently to change the Australian flag,” Mr Marshall said on Wednesday. “And certainly I wouldn't be supporting it.”

“The Union Jack in the corner reflects our history," Mr Marshall added.

"I think it's a flag that's held with great affection for people right across the country and I don't think there's any legitimate, widespread, populist support for any change to the flag.”

Tasmanian Liberal leader Will Hodgman appeared no more willing than Mr Marshall to entertain suggestions of changing Australia's flag.

“It's not part of our plan to change our flag but of course we're always open to good sensible debates about the state's future,” Mr Hodgman told ABC radio on Wednesday.

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