(CNN) — Australia The Aboriginal flag will replace the state flag of New South Wales on the Sydney Harbor Bridge after officials scrapped an A$25 million (US$17 million) scheme that would have accommodated both.
In a statement announcing the decision on Monday, New South Wales (NSW) Premier Dominic Perrottet said the landmark will be 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 the national and state flags – earlier this year when it did pledged to build a third 20 meter high flagpole.
The state provided funding for the project as part of the Closing the Gap initiative, a nationwide effort to close the gap in health and life expectancy between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians.
But the programme’s multi-million dollar price tag raised the eyebrows of many Australians – including Perrottet, who expressed surprise at the number.
When asked in June why the flagpole cost so much, the Prime Minister told reporters: “I don’t know, but apparently it does.” and set up the pole.”
perrotted allegedly ordered a review of the calculation. In a press release announcing the new plan on Monday, Minister of State for Aboriginal Affairs Ben Franklin said the money would be reallocated to other initiatives that “deliver real results for Aboriginal people across NSW”.
The Aboriginal flag was designed by Indigenous artist Harold Thomas in 1971 and is currently flown on the bridge for 19 days each year, including during NAIDOC (National Aboriginal and Islanders Day Observance Committee) week which ended on Sunday.
The decision to install it permanently follows a five-year Fund the Flag campaign and petition which attracted over 175,000 signatures.
Officially recognized since 1995, the red, black and yellow flag has become an emblem of Indigenous Australians and is often seen from government buildings. However, its use has long been marred by a trade dispute after a company that licensed the image from its creator began demanding payment from various organizations that use it.
In January, following the high-profile Free the Flag campaign, Australia’s national government bought the copyright in a deal worth more than AU$20 million (US$14 million), making it freely available for public viewing.
The yellow circle of the design represents the sun, while the black stripe symbolizes the native people and the red part refers to their blood and the earth.
The NSW flag is now based on the British Blue Ensign, used by various countries and territories that are, or were once, associated with the United Kingdom. As part of Monday’s announcement, officials said they would instead create a new home for a “prominent” state flag at a new downtown redevelopment project.
Earlier this month, officials in the neighboring state of Victoria announced the Aboriginal flag would also fly permanently over Melbourne’s West Gate Bridge.
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