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Protection of 25 Colonial-Era Statues in Sydney Denied

During this year’s Australia Day in Melbourne, a statue of Captain James Cook was vandalized, with the statue being sawn off at the ankles. This act sparked further concerns about protecting historical statues, especially those related to the colonisation of Australia. The issue gained more attention following the Black Lives Matter protests in the United States and global civil unrest.

Several acts of vandalism around the world have targeted statues connected to colonialism, and Australia has experienced similar incidents. In Melbourne, not only was a Captain Cook statue damaged, but also Queen Victoria’s likeness was defaced with red paint.

Efforts by One Nation Party MP Tania Mihailuk to move 25 historical statues, including those involved in the colonization of Australia, under a state heritage register were rejected by Heritage Minister Penny Sharpe. Sharpe pointed out that many colonial statutes already have protection under state law.

Yvonne Weldon, the first Indigenous councillor in the City of Sydney’s history, has called for the City Council to review inscriptions on 25 statues depicting leaders from the colonial era to promote truth-telling in the public domain. Meanwhile, NSW Labor MP Cameron Murphy suggested replacing contentious statues with new artistic sculptures, stating that what one person sees as a pioneer or hero may be seen as a genocidal maniac by another.

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