An Aboriginal activist and former MP wants the state of Victoria to change its name under a new treaty with Australia’s First People.
Lidia Thorpe, who represented the Greens in the Victorian Legislative Assembly in 2017 and 2018, is calling for the change because the state is named after British Empire ruler Queen Victoria.
‘Anything that’s named after someone who’s caused harm or murdered people, then I think we should take their name down,’ she told The Herald Sun.
Lidia Thorpe is honoured during a traditional smoking ceremony by Aboriginal Elders on the steps if Parliament House in Melbourne in November 2017
Ms Thorpe thinks Victoria should be renamed over its association with Queen Victoria (pictured)
Ms Thorpe, the first Aboriginal woman to be elected to the Parliament of Victoria, believes Indigenous groups and the state government should consider the idea during treaty talks.
‘It could even stay the same if that’s what people want, if that’s part of the negotiation outcome of a treaty where everyone gets to understand both sides,’ Ms Thorpe said.
Her comments come as Black Lives Matter protests spark calls to tear down monuments linked to Australia’s colonial past across the country.
City of Melbourne councillor Nicholas Reece said monuments dedicated to Melbourne co-founder John Batman could be up for review through his hand in hunting Aborigines in Tasmania.
Ms Thorpe believes a rename of the state should be considered during treaty talks between the state government and indigenous groups
City of Melbourne councillor Nicholas Reece said statues for John Batman could be reviewed in light of his history hunting indigenous people in Tasmania
‘There’s a number of monuments and statues to John Batman in Melbourne, and I think there’s a case to be made around perhaps them being given a less prominent place in our city,’ he told 3AW.
A 50-year-old statue of Captain Cook in Cairns is under threat after activists petitioned for it to be torn down over the British Royal Navy captain’s treatment of Aboriginal people when his ship landed in Australia.
The petition claims the statue is a ‘slap in the face to all indigenous people’, saying Cook’s legacy was one of ‘forced removal, slavery, genocide and stolen land’.
Two other statues of the explorer, both in Sydney, have already been defaced as Black Lives Matter protests shine a light on racial inequality.
There are growing calls for statues of Cook to be removed, though Prime Minister Scott Morrison has defended the explorer’s legacy and controversially declared there was ‘no slavery in Australia’ – a comment he has since apologised for.
The petition for the Cairns statue to be removed, signed by more than 12,000 people as of Tuesday morning, reads: ‘Since 1972, the James Cook statue on Sheridan Street has stood as a symbol of colonialism and genocide.
The Captain Cook statue in Cairns (pictured) has stood since 1972, but protesters want it to be taken down
A worker paints over graffiti on a Captain Cook statue in Sydney (pictured on June 15) after the second such act of vandalism amid recent anti-racism protests
‘It’s a slap in the face to all indigenous people.
‘For us it represents dispossession, forced removal, slavery, genocide, stolen land, and loss of culture – among many other things.
‘I am calling on Cairns Regional Council and Cairns Mayor Mr Bob Manning to take action today and remove this statue. This would be a huge step forward in uniting the community and honouring our First Nation’s people.
‘I also call on non-indigenous Australians to stand with us. The #BlackLivesMatter movement is as urgent here on your own doorsteps as it is on the streets of Minneapolis.
‘For you to demand the removal of this offensive and outdated statue shows your willingness to look Australia’s ugly history right in the eye, and say no more.’
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton told 9News he wants the statues to stay.
Black Lives Matter protests in Australia (pictured on June 6 in Melbourne) have focused on the inequalities faced by indigenous Australians
‘I don’t think ripping pages out of history books and brushing over parts of history you don’t agree with or you don’t like is really something the Australian public is going to embrace,’ he said.
‘There are good and bad parts of our history. You learn from that.’
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has also voiced his support for the statues to stay.
‘You can’t rewrite history, you have to learn from it,’ he told Sydney radio 2GB.
‘The idea that you go back to year zero of history is in my view, just quite frankly unacceptable.’
Mr Morrison has previously said he wanted to help the public to gain a better understanding of Captain Cook’s historic voyage.
‘That voyage is the reason Australia is what it is today and it’s important we take the opportunity to reflect on it,’ Mr Morrison said.
Captain James Cook (pictured) opened the door to colonisation and a collapse in the indigenous population caused by massacres, disease and forced removal from their land