Australia’s Aboriginal flag will replace the New South Wales state flag on Sydney Harbour Bridge, after officials scrapped a 25 million Australian dollar ($17 million) scheme that would have accommodated both.
In a statement announcing the decision Monday, New South Wales (NSW) Premier Dominic Perrottet said the landmark will provide an “everyday reminder of our nation’s rich history.”
The state government first announced plans to permanently install an Aboriginal flag on the iconic bridge – alongside both the national and state flags – earlier this year, when it pledged to build a third 20-meter-tall (66-foot) flagpole.
The state allocated funds for the project as part of the Closing the Gap initiative, a nationwide drive to close the health and life expectancy gaps between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians.
But the scheme’s multi-million-dollar price tag raised eyebrows among many Australians – including Perrottet, who expressed his surprise at the figure.
When asked in June why the flagpole cost so much, the premier told reporters, “I don’t know, but it does apparently.” He then joked: “I’ll go to (hardware store) Bunnings myself and climb up there and put the pole up.”
Perrottet reportedly ordered a review into the costings. In a press release announcing the new plan on Monday, state Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Ben Franklin said the money would be reallocated to other initiatives that will “deliver real outcomes for Aboriginal people across NSW.”