Aboriginal flag to permanently replace state flag on Sydney Harbour Bridge

19th July 2022 | 20.55 pm

New South Wales (NSW) Premier Dominic Perrottet said in a statement announcing the choice that the landmark will serve as “an everyday reminder of our nation’s rich history.”

When pledging to construct a third 20-meter (66-foot) flagpole earlier this year, the state administration originally revealed plans to permanently erect an Aboriginal flag atop the famous bridge — in addition to the national and state flags.

As part of the national effort to address the health and life expectancy inequities between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians, the state provided funding for the project.

But many Australians were taken aback by the scheme’s multi-million dollar price tag, including Perrottet, who expressed amazement at the sum.

The premier responded, “I don’t know, but it does evidently,” when reporters questioned him in June about why the flagpole cost so much. I’ll go to (hardware retailer) Bunnings myself and climb up there and put the pole up, he said in jest.

A review of the costings was apparently ordered by Perrottet. State Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Ben Franklin stated in a news release that the funds would be redirected to other programs that “provide genuine benefits for Aboriginal people across NSW.”

Increasingly prominent

The Aboriginal flag is currently flown on the bridge for 19 days each year, including during NAIDOC (National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee) Week, which ended on Sunday. It was created in 1971 by Indigenous artist Harold Thomas.

Following a five-year “Fund the Flag” campaign and petition that gathered more than 175,000 signatures, it was decided to install it permanently.

The red, black, and yellow flag, which has been officially recognized since 1995, has come to represent Aboriginal Australians and is frequently flown from governmental structures. However, a business conflict that developed after a corporation that had obtained a license to use the image from its author started requiring money from numerous groups using it severely limited its use.

Following the well-known “Free the Flag” movement, the Australian national government paid more than 20 million Australian dollars ($14 million) for the copyright in January, making it freely accessible to the general public.

The red component of the pattern refers to their blood and the land, while the black stripe denotes Indigenous people. The yellow circle in the design symbolizes the sun.

The British Blue Ensign, which is currently flown by a number of nations and territories that are or were were affiliated with the United Kingdom, serves as the inspiration for the NSW Flag. Officials made the decision to construct a new home for a “prominent” state flag at a new downtown redevelopment project as part of their statement on Monday.

Aboriginal flag will also fly continuously above Melbourne’s West Gate Bridge, according to announcements made earlier this month by authorities in the neighboring state of Victoria.

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