Australia: Colonial statues vandalized on eve of Australia Day
A STATUE of James Cook in St Kilda and the Burke Wills sculpture in the Melbourne CBD have both been defaced on the eve of Australia Day.
The sculpture of Captain James Cook, erected in the Catani Gardens in 1914, has had pink paint dumped over it and big red letters marked at the base saying “No Pride”.
The statue of Captain Cook is a replica of the one at his birthplace at Whitby in England.
Victoria Police took photographs of the defaced statue and dusted beer bottles found nearby for fingerprints in St Kilda this morning.
Another statue, Burke and Wills, has been splattered with green paint and the word “stolen” written across the plaque.
It is Melbourne’s oldest piece of public art and was made by sculptor Charles Summers.
The statue honours explorers Robert O’Hara Burke and Williams John Wills who were the first white men to cross Australia from south to north.
It is not yet known who defaced the statues but police are investigating.
Federal citizenship minister Alan Tudge said the vandalism is a “disgrace”.
“These people are trashing our national heritage by doing what they’re doing and they’re achieving nothing in the process,” he told 3AW.
“You can’t rewrite our history.
“I want Australia Day to be a great unifying day for our country, it has been for many decades now.”
The vandalism comes as debate rages about changing the date of Australia Day from January 26 with many indigenous Australians believing it to be Invasion Day.
Australia Day has been marked by a public holiday on January 26 since 1994.
The Victorian Opposition has fired back saying if councils refused to celebrate Australia Day they could be sacked if they win this year’s state election.
Rallies to change the date will be held across the country tomorrow on the 80th anniversary of the Day of Mourning protest.
Protesters are expected to lay flowers on the steps of the Victorian Parliament from 11am.