Following a fiery public debate as to whether the inscription it bears should be changed, a statue of Captain Cook was tagged by vandals overnight in Sydney‘s Hyde Park, one of three to be sprayed with slogans including ‘Change The Date‘.
NSW Police say that they are investigating “a number of incidents of malicious damage”, thought to have occurred between 2am and 3am on Saturday. “Three crime scenes have been established throughout the park and inquiries are continuing,” a police representative told media.
Statutes of Lachlan Macquarie and Queen Victoria were also targeted, with slogans that included ‘No Pride In Genocide’, as well as ‘Change The Date’, a reference to the ongoing push to change the date of Australia day.
There was a furore earlier this week when former Prime Minister Tony Abbott got his budgie smugglers in a twist and declared that the famous Captain Cook statue will likely be torn down if Bill Shorten wins the next federal election.
Broadcaster Stan Grant later weighed in, saying that the statue represents an important part of history and ought to remain, but its inscription should be changed to correct the “fiction” that Cook discovered Australia when there were indigenous inhabitants here well before he arrived.
In a subsequent interview with 3AW, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said that Grant was “dead wrong” and that editing the inscriptions on statutes is like rewriting history. He said:
All of those statues, all of those monuments, are part of our history and we should respect them and preserve them. By all means, put up other monuments, put up other signs and sites that explain our history … You don’t rewrite history by editing stuff out; if you want to write a new chapter of our history, if you want to challenge assumptions in the past, by all means do so.
Cleaners in Hyde Park have been working on removing the slogans from the statues throughout the morning.
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