Scott Morrison has condemned “pathetic” vandals who graffitied hate messages on the statues of former Prime Ministers Tony Abbott and John Howard in the early hours of Saturday morning.

The statues, which are both on display on Ballarat’s Prime Ministers Avenue, were vandalised in the hours between midnight and 2.15am on Saturday morning, prompting increased security in the area in the “immediate period,” according Sunday Herald Sun.

“This is as pathetic as it is disappointing,” Morrison told the Sunday Herald Sun. Ironically, the same statement can also be used to describe the general public’s thoughts about his recent slavery comments.

“Those carrying on in this way are determined to divide and offend Australians at a time when we are bringing our country together to restore to Australians their jobs and livelihoods taken by the COVID-19 crisis.”

“We won’t be distracted by this disrespectful and attention-seeking behaviour. The police will get on and do their job and we will keep on doing ours.”

The busts were covered in profanities, including calling the former PMs “pig”, homophobic and fascist, among other things.

“If the culprits can be identified, they should be made to clean up the mess, as well as fined, because of the disrespect they have shown to their community — a community that rightly takes pride in hosting the avenue of prime ministers,’’ Mr Abbott, whose statue was branded “pig”, said.

“It’s pretty obvious that the statue topplers and the monument ‘vandalisers’ are more interested in making a political point than in the wellbeing of our most disadvantaged citizens.”

In addition to being graffitied with words, the statues were also covered in tomato sauce, which can damage the bronze coating.

The statues have now been fenced off and covered with black plastic to prevent further damage.

The news comes just one day after a police guarded the statue of Captain James Cook in Sydney’s Hyde Park amid Black Lives Matter protests.

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