Tearing down Sydney’s Hyde Park statue of Captain Cook would be a nonsensical “Stalinist approach” to rewriting Australia’s history, some critics have claimed.
As debate rolls on around the future of Confederate statues in the US, attention has shifted locally in recent days where some believe a 126-year-old statue of Cook should be removed – largely because of a plague claiming he “discovered this territory”, the Daily Telegraph reports.
While Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore has asked the city’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory panel for advice on the issue, Indigenous leader Warren Mundine says avoiding the nation’s history was “nonsense”.
“All this nonsense about changing things — we cannot look back at history without modern minds otherwise we would have to tear down the pyramids because they were built by slaves,” he said.
“Trying to have a Stalinist approach and whiting out peoples’ names is false history.
“In Australia the problem is an absence of memorials, we need more about our own people, our indigenous people.”
It comes as ex-PM Tony Abbott claimed statues of Cook would be torn down in a move of “political correctness on steroids” if Bill Shorten were to become Australia’s next prime minister.
“You can just imagine all the statues of Captain Cook being taken down, all the statues of Governor Phillip being taken down,” Mr Abbott told a Sydney radio station.
Last week, the ABC indigenous affairs editor Stan Grant said that while debate around Captain Cook statue was “certainly a good thing”, the monument represented a “damaging myth” around the British discovery of Australia.
“History itself becomes a hymn to whiteness. This is what Captain Cook’s statue in Sydney’s Hyde Park tells us,” he wrote.
“The inscription that Cook ‘Discovered this territory 1770’ maintains a damaging myth, a belief in the superiority of white Christendom that devastated indigenous peoples everywhere.”