Calls Growing For Controversial Statues To Be Pulled Down In Australia
Cities around the world have started pulling down controversial statues in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement.
A statue of slave owner Robert Milligan in London and one of Belgian King Leopold II in Antwerp have been pulled down after protests erupted following the death of George Floyd.
Several other slave traders or Confederate leaders have been removed in recent days in the UK and US. That's lead to similar calls in Australia for statues of polarising figures to be removed.
As slave trader Edward Colson's statue was brought down in Bristol over the weekend, many started sarcastically saying it would 'be a shame' if the same thing happened to the statue of Captain James Cook in Sydney's Hyde Park.
People have pointed at other colonisers, explorers and colonial administrators who have been immortalised in statues around the country that could be taken down.
One that has stirred a bit of controversy is of former South Australian premier Charles Cameron Kingston in Adelaide.
While Kingston was the first to push for the colony to allow women to vote in 1894, his other deeds haven't been as celebrated. He opposed Chinese immigration to Australia and has been accused of being the originator of the White Australia policy.
South Australian actress Natasha Wanganeen said of the statue: "I would support that statue being removed and being replaced with somebody who was respected by both white and black people here.
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"Looking at that statue every day as an Aboriginal woman, walking out of my house, it is a mental health trigger. Why can't we replace these racist people and their statues with people who actually tried to bring our state together?"
She also supports the removal of the Captain Cook statue in Sydney.
"Don't put Captain Cook up there and make him look like a god to everybody, make him look like a saviour, because he was anything but," she said. "Why would people want to celebrate somebody like that? It's disgusting."
An online petition has gained more than 2,100 signatures to remove a statue of Australia's first prime minister, Sir Edmund Barton, from its spot in Port Macquarie.
Aboriginal elders say the statue is placed on a traditional burial site in New South Wales and is deeply troubling.
Port Macquarie woman Arlene Mehan is leading the charge with this particular statue and has told the ABC: "You wouldn't put a statue of Hitler in a Jewish space, so it's been a bit of a thorn," she said. "It's a burial site and you're putting a figure of white Australia on an Aboriginal burial site - it's just not appropriate."
But one academic believes that if people try to remove history then they won't be educated about what occurred in our past.
Australian National University history professor Bruce Scates reckons it is far better installing plaques onto statues and giving passersby an updated explanation of the person that reflects the current thinking.
He's told the ABC: "I think when you do that you actually create a platform for discussion."
Featured Image Credit: Peter Shanks (Flickr)
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