• Centre Alliance MP Rebekha Sharkie will work on a motion to fly the Indigenous flags in federal parliament. (AAP)Source: AAP
Centre Alliance MP Rebekha Sharkie will work on a motion to fly the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags in parliament.
17 Aug 2018 - 5:20 PM  UPDATED 17 Aug 2018 - 5:30 PM

Rebekha Sharkie will get to work on a motion calling for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags to be flown alongside the Australian flag in the House of Representatives. 

The motion was prompted by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull himself after Ms Sharkie raised the absence of the Indigenous flags during Question Time on Thursday. 

The Member for Mayo asked if Mr Turnbull would support flying the flags in the chamber. In her question, Ms Sharkie referred to one of her Indigenous constituents who approached her about the issue. 

"Mr Hedley Vogt, has approached me regarding an issue close to his heart," she said. 

"There are four flagpoles in this chamber, and none of them flies the Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander flags. 

"[In] the spirit of reconciliation, and recognition of the history and culture of Australia’s First Peoples will the government support flying the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags in this Chamber?" 

Mr Turnbull acknowledged the absence of the flags and advised Ms Sharkie to file a motion into the subject. 

"I imagine (she) will seek to move a motion to amend the standing orders for that purpose, assuming that is necessary," Mr Turnbull told parliament. 

But Mr Turnbull did not commit, talking down the odds of flying the flags. 

"I have to say, while we pay respect to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags, the flags hanging in each corner of this room is the flag of Australia."

He said the government will take Ms Sharkie's proposal on board if she moved to amend the standing orders. 

Ms Sharkie expressed disappointment with the prime minister's response.

"We have four flag poles. There is room to fly the Australian flags and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags. Gotta say, disappointed with the response," she said. 

The question sparked a point of order as to whether it was appropriate to direct it to the prime minister but the opposition jumped on board right away.

"If it's of assistance to the prime minister, as these things should be, we'll offer bipartisanship if you choose to take up the member for Mayo's offer," Labor leader Bill Shorten said.

Mr Vogt, who raised the issue of the flags with Ms Sharkie, was born in Central Australia. He now lives in the Adelaide Hills.

He said the three flags were flown “everywhere else” and deserved a place inside the Houses of Parliament.

“They talk about reconciliation, well this would be a visual sign to show reconciliation,” Mr Vogt said after Question Time.

“At least the prime minister didn’t say ‘no’ so that’s good."

The call comes as thousands of Australians have signed up to support a campaign to fly the Aboriginal flag atop the Sydney Harbour Bridge. 

The petition pushes for the flag to be flown permanently alongside the Australian and New South Wales flags on the iconic landmark, and not just during Indigenous events such as NAIDOC Week or Reconciliation Week. 

The petition has more than 90,000 signatures. 

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