Bill Shorten has called for Hyde Park’s Captain Cook statue to be reformed after it was the target of a vandal who scrawled ‘change the date’ and ‘no pride in genocide’ across the monument.
Speaking at Hyde Park in Sydney’s centre on Monday, Mr Shorten joined a growing number of activists campaigning for the statue to acknowledge and pay respect to Aboriginal people – the country’s first Australians.
‘This country works best when we work together, so an additional plaque on Captain Cook’s statue is fine by me,’ Mr Shorten said.
Speaking at Hyde Park in Sydney’s centre on Monday, Mr Shorten joined a growing number of left-wing activists campaigning for the statue to acknowledge and pay respect to Aboriginal people
‘I’m proud of our Aboriginal history, I’m not so proud of the way Aboriginals have been treated since 1770.’
While Mr Shorten welcomed an additional plaque, he did not support the removal of the statue altogether, according to Seven News.
The statue of Captain Cook, which boasts an inscription saying the British explorer ‘discovered this territory, 1770’, was vandalised about 2am on Saturday.
The words ‘change the date’ and ‘no pride in genocide’ were scrawled across the monument in spray paint – political slogans used by people who want the date of Australia Day changed.
Statues of Lachlan Macquarie and Queen Victoria were also defaced with spray paint.
An iconic statue of Captain James Cook (pictured) was the target of vandals early on Saturday morning
The statue (pictured) was spray-painted with political slogans referring to the debate over the date of Australia Day
A statue of former NSW governor Lachlan Macquarie (pictured) was also targeted by vandals
Mr Shorten’s views were in stark contrast to those held by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who said the statue was ‘part of history’ and should remain as is.
‘All of those statues, all of those monuments, are part of our history and we should respect them and preserve them,’ he told 3AW’s Neil Mitchell.
‘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.’
Mr Shorten’s views were in stark contrast to those held by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who said the statue was ‘part of history’ and should remain as is
Images of a male police believe might be able to assist with inquiries into the malicious damage of a number of public monuments in Sydney’s CBD have been released
Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison also condemned the vandalism and slammed the anonymous culprit.
‘That idiot who did this on the weekend, he’s not doing anything to help indigenous young Australians. This was just an act of pure ego and vanity; it’s disgraceful,’ Mr Morrison said on Monday.
Mr Shorten’s support for the change was shared by Sydney councillor Kerryn Phelps.
‘I think it’s important we don’t sanitise history, but I think it’s equally important that the inscriptions on our statues are historically accurate,’ Ms Phelps said.
Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore ordered a review of the Captain Cook statue.
Suggestions will be submitted to Mayor Clover Moore (pictured) for consideration
Mr Moore said any potential changes would be the ‘result of very considered consultation between city government and state government’.
Aboriginal broadcaster Stan Grant also called for the inscription on the statue to be changed, but said vandalism sent the wrong message.
‘That’s appalling. It’s vandalism. If we can’t have this conversation in a country, democratically and respectful, then it is just disgraceful,’ he said.
The graffiti attack comes just days after indigenous broadcaster Stan Grant (pictured) called for the inscription on the Cook statue – saying he ‘discovered’ the territory in 1770 – be changed
‘People who do that, they actually reflect badly, not just on themselves, but if they actually care about indigenous people and our cause, they are the ones who damage us.’
The statues were vandalised just days after Mr Grant called for the Cook inscription to be changed.
‘The inscription that Cook ‘Discovered this territory 1770′ maintains a damaging myth, a belief in the superiority of white Christendom that devastated Indigenous peoples everywhere,’ he wrote for the ABC.
New South Wales police released CCTV footage on Sunday of a man they wanted to speak to in relation to the vandalism.
He was described as being of Caucasian appearance with a full face beard, wearing black sunglasses, a khaki-coloured jacket, black tracksuit pants and brown boots.
Journalist Stan Grant hit out at the wording chosen on the base of Cook’s statue which says the British explorer ‘discovered this territory in 1770’