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Vic political leaders condemn vandalism of statues overnight


Victoria’s political leaders have condemned the “appalling” vandalism of two Melbourne statues overnight, with Premier Jacinta Allan committing to have the statues repaired and reinstated. 

Victorian Opposition Leader John Pesutto has confirmed he has no desire to change the Australia Day date from January 26 but has urged Australians to respect the memories and feelings invoked within Indigenous Australians.

“The day can invoke painful memories for Indigenous Australians but it is also a day to celebrate what is great,” Mr Pesutto told Sky News Australia.

“I am standing in a Parliament which is a testament to one of the greatest democracies in the world, in one of the most advanced economies in the world.

“Here’s another thing which I think is really important for those who do want to change the date – let’s be honest on what the issue is really about.

“We have to keep our minds focused on what is good.”

A monument to Captain James Cook was severely damaged in the early hours of Thursday morning by vandals who cut down the statue of the renowned explorer.

The words “the colony will fall” were also plastered in red ink on the base of the statue, which is located in St Kilda’s Catani Gardens, in Melbourne’s inner south.

A sculpture in Queen Victoria Gardens, just south of Melbourne’s CBD, was also damaged by vandals who covered the monument in red paint.

Victoria Police are investigating the vandalism of a statue of Captain James Cook in St Kilda overnight. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Crosling

Vandals cut down the Captain Cook statue while spray painting the plinth. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ David Crosling

Both Premier Jacinta Allan and Opposition leader John Pesutto condemned the actions on Thursday, with the state leader committing to have the statue repaired and reinstated.

“This sort of vandalism really has no place in our community,” she said.

“And I want to signal today that we will be working with council to repair and reinstate the statue in St Kilda that has been vandalised overnight.”

The Victoria Liberal leader blamed the vandalism on “ratbag protesters”.

“I think it’s appalling. This is not what our country is about. We don’t tear down statues. We don’t desecrate our national symbols,” Mr Pesutto told Sky News Australia.

The words “the colony will fall” were plastered on the base of the statue in red paint. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Crosling

Victoria’s Premier has committed to ensuring the statue is repaired and reinstated. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Crosling

The state Opposition leader said that while he sees Australia Day as something to celebrate, he understood and respected the fact that January 26 prompts different emotions for different people.

“Being in a democracy, I can accept that if people peacefully want to take a different view that is perfectly okay with me. But tearing down statues and desecrating important national symbols it’s not on and I condemn it,” he said.

“Because… where does all this end? OK, you desecrate and tear down statues, what’s next? Our parliament, where I’m standing? Is anything going to be left if this debate and this type of behaviour is allowed to run amok across our community?

“We’ve got to stand up to this now and say, look, there is room in our democracy for debate, but only civil and respectful debate.”

Victorian Opposition leader John Pesutto blamed the “appalling” vandalism on “ratbag protesters”. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Geraghty

Mr Pesutto said he didn’t support changing the date of Australia Day, arguing it should be a day to both reflect on Australia’s past and celebrate what the country has achieved – describing the nation as “one of the greatest democracies” and “most advanced economies in the world”.

“I see January 26 as a day of both things,” he said.

“Reflecting on that painful past for Indigenous Australians, for sure, but also understanding that we cannot deny the benefits of the heritage we are beneficiaries of – which is our democracy, our economy, a community in which diversity can be celebrated and where people who come from all over the world can celebrate this country’s success,” he said.

“We have to keep our minds focused on what’s good about that as well and we shouldn’t just discard it. Because as I said more, where does it all end?



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