Aboriginal flag to permanently fly on Sydney Harbour Bridge

The Sydney Harbour Bridge pictured at sunset

The Aboriginal flag will now permanently fly on one of Australia’s most iconic landmarks, after a five-year campaign by advocates.

Earlier this year, the New South Wales (NSW) state government announced it would add the flag and a new pole, to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. But this would take up to two years and cost A$25m (£14m; $17m), it said.

After a backlash, officials said they would immediately display the flag on an existing pole instead.

The bridge usually shows the Australian and NSW flags. The Aboriginal flag has been flown in place of the state flag on a handful of days throughout the year.

It will now permanently replace the NSW flag, which will instead be displayed somewhere else in Sydney in a location which is yet to be determined.

The A$25m set aside for the initial plan will instead be spent on initiatives to reduce disadvantage among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said.

The large price was due to the complex work required to install a new, six-storey flagpole atop the heritage-listed bridge and replace the other two.

Komilaroi woman Cheree Toka has campaigned for the change for five years, starting a petition which amassed more than 170,000 signatures.

She said the move was long overdue, hoping that other locations across the country would follow.

“Yes, it is a symbolic gesture, however, it identifies the true history of Australia and to see that flag on the bridge will spark conversation and educate people about the Indigenous people of this country,” Ms Toka told the Sydney Morning Herald in February.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced last week that the Aboriginal flag would also have a permanent place atop Melbourne’s West Gate Bridge. It too replaces the state flag.

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