The NSW premier has said he will ‘go to Bunnings myself’ to make sure the new $25million Aboriginal flag is flying over Sydney’s Harbour Bridge as soon as possible.
Dominic Perrottet initially defended the cost of the flagpole, but following a backlash, by Monday morning he said he will review the price, saying it: ‘Doesn’t seem to pass the pub test’.
Perrottet, who has been dubbed ‘Dom ‘the Builder’ because of the billions he’s spending on construction in NSW, was asked on Channel 10’s The Project on Sunday why the process of adding a third flagpole to the Harbour Bridge will take so long and cost so much.
‘I don’t know. But it does, apparently. I’m even surprised it takes this long. I mean I made the announcement a while ago and the first brief that came back was that it takes two years to do,’ he said.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet is pictured with his wife Helen and one of their seven children. He is determined there will be a permanent Aboriginal flag flying over Sydney Harbour Bridge by the end of the year
Mr Perrottet is so keen for the flag to be permanently flown on the bridge, he said he’s prepared to ‘go to Bunnings myself and climb up there and put the pole up.
‘But apparently it does (take a long time), apparently that’s the costing, and I think that it’s an important decision that we’ve made.’
By Monday morning, though, following widespread ridicule at the price – with one commenter even saying on Daily Mail Australia’s story he should ‘Get a second quote, bro’, Mr Perrottet told 2GB radio’s Ben Fordham the cost ‘doesn’t seem to pass the pub test’.
‘The advice that I’ve received is that there are heritage concerns, all three poles will need to be replaced and all three of them are the equivalent size of a six-storey building.’
The Premier added, though, that $25million is ‘a small price to pay for that unification’.
Police Minister Paul Toole told Fordham he’ll be ‘raising this directly with the Premier’.
‘I’m sure that we can do it for a lot less,’ he said.
Fordham himself also questioned how it could possibly cost $25million to raise the flag.
‘Rip up the quote and throw it open to the open market,’ he said.
Indigenous activist Cheree Toka (pictured) has been fighting for three years to have the Aboriginal flag flown permanently on Sydney’s Harbour Bridge and was thrilled with the funding announcement
The Aboriginal flag will be permanently flown atop the bridge by the end of the year following a five-year-long grassroots campaign.
Kamilaroi woman Cheree Toka led the push to give the flag a prime position on Sydney Harbour for 365 days each year by organising successful petitions and fundraising $300,000 towards the cost.
Last week, Mr Perrottet committed another $25million for construction work on the bridge to install the third flagpole.
He said flying the flag alongside the Australian and NSW state flags is an important gesture towards Closing the Gap and addressing inequality.
The Aboriginal flag will be permanently flown atop Sydney Harbor Bridge after previously being flown only on special occasions such as Australia Day and NAIDOC week (pictured)
‘Our Indigenous history should be celebrated and acknowledged so young Australians understand the rich and enduring culture that we have here with our past,’ Mr Perrottet said on Sunday.
‘Installing the Aboriginal flag permanently on the Sydney Harbour Bridge will do just that and is a continuation of the healing process as part of the broader move towards reconciliation.’
The flagpoles are about 20 metres high, the same as a six-storey building, while the flags require an attachment strong enough to withstand all weather conditions.
Transport for NSW and Aboriginal Affairs will engage with key stakeholders about the project.
Ms Toka (pictured) organised a successful petition and raised more than $300,000 towards the cost
Mr Perrottet had previously committed to giving the Aboriginal flag a place on the Harbour Bridge in February.
The funding, however, provides a guarantee it will be in place before next year after consultants initially said engineering and construction work could take up to two years.
Ms Toka said she was thrilled at the success of the campaign.
‘I think this is really important for us as Indigenous people, achieving reconciliation through recognition,’ she said.
The Aboriginal flag being flown on the bridge was previously debated in parliament in 2019 but was knocked back due to the construction of a third flag being ‘too costly’ (pictured: Ms Toka and supporters)
‘While I know a flag is symbolic, it does spark conversation around the unjust things that are happening on Country to our people, and it shows that we are moving forward,’ she told NITV News.
The passionate advocate now has her sights set on other places the flag can be displayed after having a similar win in Sydney’s Inner West Council this year.
She also said the campaign is not yet finished with the next step being a change in protocol to ensure future premiers cannot remove the flag.