2GB Interview with Ben Fordham - Indigenous Flag

Ben Fordham:    Well, the federal government is looking at the issue of the indigenous flag. There's a group called WAM clothing that owns the rights to it, and they’ve slapped a massive licensing fee to use it, so the AFL, Rugby Australia, Indigenous groups, clothing brands. They've all been targeted. They’ve been told if you want to use the Aboriginal flag, you’ve got to pay for it.  Some Coalition MPs are pushing for the government to buy out the licence to free the flag. Andrew Bragg the Liberal Senator, joins us on the line. Senator, good morning to you.

Andrew Bragg:  G’day Ben.

Ben Fordham:    You want the Indigenous flag back in public hands. I think most people agree with that. But how much money are you willing to pay?

Andrew Bragg:   This flag is an important national icon, and I think most people would be surprised that it isn't owned by the Commonwealth government given it's importance to our country. And so I think we should look to acquire the rights to the flag at a reasonable price.

Ben Fordham:    I'm concerned, that if we use taxpayers money for a bailout, it's going to politicise this issue in a major way. I mean, I might be a bit naive. I've been appealing to the goodwill of WAM clothing to say, “Come on, please hand this thing over.” They got it for a pittance. Surely, they can come up with a way of making their money back, which I'm sure they've already done, and then saying all right; We're going to gift it to the Indigenous people and give it to Australia how much money are you willing to fork out: because that's what it's going to come down to. Dollars and cents.

Andrew Bragg:   But the reality is, is that this flag was designed by Mr Harold Thomas who's an Indigenous man and he has entered into legal and contractual agreements with various commercial entities including WAM and a Liberal government wouldn’t ride roughshod over his contractual rights, and so this is a delicate matter and we need to you know engage with all these parties, and it look to acquire the rights. We can't just throw their legal rights in the bin.

Ben Fordham:    Can you find out what it's worth?  If you have an interest in it, I’d love to know from WAM clothing what it's going to cost because there might be a number people in Australia. There might be a philanthropist. There might be a businessman or businesswoman who might say, “Look I'm happy to foot the bill if it means freeing the flag for good.”

Andrew Bragg: Yes, I'll do my best to find out what a fair price would be. I mean we have been here before. The National Government established a competition to design the Australian flag 120 years ago and we paid for that.  And then of course the Olympic Committee paid to purchase the rights to the boxing kangaroo flag for the Olympics in Sydney, so we have been here before Ben.

Ben Fordham:   There is the big question mark about price though, so look I don't know whether they'll talk to you. They certainly haven't spoken to us when we have attempted to have a chat to them, but I'd love to know what the cost is because that's what I was going to come down to I mean where do you draw the lines Senator? A million dollars? Five million dollars? Ten million dollars?

Andrew Bragg:   Well, let’s see.  It would be really unhelpful of me to put it a number out there today because at the end of the day, the executive government, Ken Wyatt, needs to and is leading the negotiations with Mr Thomas who designed the flag. I mean the only sort of historical precedent you might be able to draw upon is the price that the Olympic Committee paid for the boxing kangaroo flag, which I think was around 10 million dollars, so that goes to say it would be unhelpful for me to put a number on this particular transaction.

Ben Fordham:    I would love to get an update from you at some stage. Thanks for joining us bright and early.

Andrew Bragg: Okay, cheers.

Ben Fordham:    Good man, Liberal Senator Andrew Bragg saying that we should free the flag. And if that involves a government bailout, there's a precedent there that we have used taxpayers money to obtain the rights to flags in the past.

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