• Fresh debate surrounding if the Aboriginal flag should be permanently on top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge (AAP)Source: AAP
New South Wales opposition leader Luke Foley has announced support for plans to allow the Aboriginal flag to be permanently positioned alongside the Australian flag on top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
By
Rangi Hirini

Source:
NITV News
2 Feb 2018 - 1:46 PM  UPDATED 2 Feb 2018 - 2:27 PM

A week after the nationwide Invasion Day Rallies, which saw thousands of protests in all major Australian cities march for Change the Date movement, the New South Wales Opposition leader has thrown his support behind another change for an Indigenous issue.

Currently the Aboriginal flag is only raised on the Sydney Harbour Bridge 15 times throughout the year.

Last year a campaign by Kamilaroi woman Cheree Toka was kick started in hopes to have the Aboriginal flag flown on the bridge all day every day.

“It needs to be flown 24-7, seven days a week to recognise and acknowledge Aboriginal people," she told NITV at the time.

"I don’t want any flag replaced. We have a flag to represent Australia and the Aboriginal flag is to represent the First Peoples of Australia, which is an acknowledgement to them."

The flag is currently flown on Australia Day, during NAIDOC Week, and on Reconciliation Day. However, the Australian flag and the New South Wales flag are flown throughout the year. 

At a media conference today Mr Foley said: “This is about a unifying gesture, about another step, a small step but a significant step on that road we have to talk together, the road of reconciliation between Indigenous and non- Indigenous Australians." 

"It’s about pride, our pride, our societies pride in 60,000 years of Aboriginal history and culture."

He said many Aboriginal people are "disheartened" that the flag is flown so little during the year. 

Last week Mr Foley announced that NSW Labor will establish a treaty with state's Aboriginal people if elected to government in 2019.

Today, Ms Toka joined Mr Foley at his press conference and said placing the Aboriginal flag at the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge is a small step in the right direction.

“We want to be recognised and to be recognised it’s by that flag, the Aboriginal flag. We identify under the Australian flag as well but why not fly both flags," she said. 

Conservative broadcaster Alan Jones has hit out at Mr Foley’s announcement saying it’s a “death notice” on the NSWs Opposition leader’s career.

“They will thrash you Luke. You’re gone. It’s the first time I’ve seen a death notice on the front page of the paper,” Jones shrieked on his 2GB breakfast show.

However, Mr Foley has hit back at the radio host. 

"I understand that Alan has to roll out of bed every morning and find something to be angry about," he said.

Campaign to fly Aboriginal flag on Sydney Harbour Bridge builds momentum
People are shocked after learning the Aboriginal flag only flies on the Sydney Harbour Bridge for a few weeks of the year, says petition organiser.

Former NSW Liberal Premier Barry O’Farrell has thrown his support the campaign.

Mr Foley said it would be a social priority if he was elected to have reconcilation between Indigenous and non- Indigenous Australians.

"I believe the oldest continuing problem our society faces is the dispossession of the traditional owners of the land that occurred at the time of British settlement and the on-going consequences of that dispossession today."

Ms Toka’s online petition to get the Aboriginal flag flying high at the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge has over 70 000 online signatures.