Sunrise host Andrew O’Keefe has repeatedly suggested Captain Cook didn’t discover Australia – earning a rebuke from an indigenous academic.
The Seven Network presenter challenged the historical wisdom the 18th century British naval explorer had discovered the east coast of Australia in 1770.
‘There’s that debate about Cook and his so-called discovery of Australia, which is absolutely, historically inaccurate,’ he said on Sunday.
Weekend Sunrise host Andrew O’Keefe (left) says Captain Cook didn’t discover Australia
However Anthony Dillon, an academic from the Australian Catholic University in Sydney, debunked the idea that equating Captain James Cook with the discovery of Australia was an insult to 40,000 years of Aboriginal heritage.
The TV clash comes after a statue of Captain James in Sydney’s Hyde Park was defaced with the words, ‘No pride in genocide.’
‘If I said I discovered a great Chinese restaurant in Newtown, I don’t literally mean I was the first one,’ Dr Dillon said.
The academic and indigenous affairs commentator said there were more important issues to focus on for Aboriginal people, like homelessness, child abuse and domestic violence.
‘We shouldn’t become distracted from the important issues as well,’ he said.
Indigenous academic Anthony Dillon says there are more important issues than Captain Cook
A Sydney memorial to Captain James Cook was defaced with the words: ‘No pride in genocide’
Protesters have made a political point about Captain Cook’s place in history with vile graffiti
After agreeing with the idea of new statues to salute indigenous Australians, Dr Dillon rebuked Weekend Sunrise co-host Monique Wright’s suggestion Australia needed to address Aboriginal injustices of the past.
‘We’re never ever victims of the past. We’re only ever victims of our view of the past,’ Dr Dillon said.
‘Today, there are thousands and thousands of of successful Aboriginal people who are thriving in this country. They haven’t let the past hold them back’.
However, this didn’t appear to convince O’Keefe that Captain Cook’s place in Australian history was inaccurate.
‘The Cook statue, in a sense, is a bit of a no-brainer,’ he said.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull condemned as ‘cowardly’ the desecration of three statues in Sydney and compared it to the behaviour of communist Russian dictator Joseph Stalin.
He said the defacement of monuments to Captain Cook and Governor Lachlan Macquarie on Saturday both ‘denied’ and ‘obliterated’ Australia’s history.
In a Facebook post he called the graffiti of the statues ‘deeply disturbing’ and said that he hoped the police ‘swiftly find those responsible and bring them to justice’.
‘This is what Stalin did. When he fell out with his henchmen he didn’t just execute them, they were removed from all official photographs,’ Mr Turnbull wrote on Facebook.