by Yair Frid, February 20, 2018
The past Australia Day was once again the centre of the debate, when Captain Cook’s statue at St Kilda was covered in pink paint and tagged with the words “no pride”. Also, the memorial to Burke and Wills located near the Melbourne Zoo, was vandalized with green paint and the words “stolen”, both attacks were made a day before Australia Day. As a result, the council increased the patrols in St Kilda over the Australia Day weekend.
The controversy around the national day has always been around, but in recent years it has increased, particularly, rising displays of vandalism. Last August, the Captain Cook statue in Sydney’s Hyde Park was tagged with the words “No pride in genocide” and governor Lachlan Macquarie statue spray-painted with the legend “Change the date”.
The January 26 date was implemented as the national day until 1935, before that, it marked the commemoration of the arrival and settlement of the first fleet of British occupancy in Sydney in 1788, so it was thought as a NSW occasion rather than national. Given that each state has its own foundation day, considering a NSW event as the national day has lead to such debate. Additionally, the date was declared as a mourning day by Indigenous communities since 1938 making it even more divisive, as historians have also declared how violent was the British occupation.
In light of this, it seems logical that protestors come with the idea of expressing their discontent with the Australia Day, but that does not mean that they can vandalise public spaces and national heritage figures with graffiti, because it only brings more vandalism and more offences.
Tags and graffiti of these offensive nature have to be removed as soon as possible because it creates the impression of an unsafe place, and can lead to more offences, also it becomes even more delicate when thousands of people visit this kind of public spaces.
Moreover, the costs of removing graffiti go directly to the community as well as the need to increase the security and patrol of public places in order to restore the calm in events such as the Australia Day.