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Captain Cook to return as council reinstates statue

Vandals target Captain Cook statue

A statue of Captain Cook that was sawn off at the ankles by vandals on the eve of Australia Day will be reinstated within weeks.

The Port Phillip Council on Wednesday reaffirmed its commitment to repair and reinstate the statue that was vandalised in Melbourne’s beachside St Kilda early on January 25.

Photos posted to social media showed the body of the statue fallen on the grass below with “The colony will fall” written in red spray paint on the stone plinth underneath where the statue usually stands.

Port Phillip Mayor Heather Cunsolo said the statue would be returned ot its original location within a fortnight as the council investigated ways to reduce the chances of future vandalism, including adding context to the work.

“We are united as a council in sending a very clear message to vandals that they do not dictate which cultural public assets are allowed to stand in our city,” Cunsolo said.

An effort led by councillor Robbie Nyaguy to consult the community on whether it would be more appropriate to consider another location for the statue was voted down.

“We need to have a proper an open conversation about our history,” Nyaguy told the Today Show.

“The only way we can move forward as a community is to have an open conversation … about where we put statues, like Captain Cook, and the kind of context and information we put around them.”

He described his fellow councillors’ decision to reinstate the controversial statue with no community consultation as not giving ratepayers a “democratic method” to have the conversation.

“If our response is to say, we’re not going to have a conversation, we’re not going to provide people with a democratic and legitimate way to answer these questions, then I fear the message we’re sending is we’re not going to be talking to you and go out there and do the wrong thing,” he said.

Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan reiterated her government was ready to work with the council to repair the statue.

“We’re pleased it’s been resolved,” she said.

The Queen Victoria memorial at Queen Victoria Gardens near the city was also vandalised with red paint on January 25.

The Cook statue was doused with red paint by protesters in January 2022 as an “Invasion Day” statement.

– AAP

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