Fury as politician calls for renaming of Australian states
An Australian politician has caused controversy after demanding the states Queensland and Victoria be renamed so as not to honour a former British monarch and head of empire that “murdered people”.
Lidia Thorpe represented the Greens in the Victorian Legislative Assembly in 2017 and 2018 and says the states that have their names are due to an “invasion of country” that “caused harm” to Indigenous Australians.
However Ms Thorpe, who is the first Aboriginal woman to be elected to the Parliament of Victoria, was quickly accused of “jumping on the bandwagon”, with some pointing out that even her own last name, “Thorpe”, has English origins and therefore should also be changed under her own reasoning.
Tory MP Mark Francois told MailOnline: “Unless I am mistaken several years ago Australia voted democratically in a referendum to retain HM the Queen as head of state.
“In light of that decision it seems to me that there is unlikely to be overwhelming support in Australia for this proposition. We would all be better to focus on the exciting prospect of a new trade deal between Britain and Australia.”
Queen Victoria granted permission to become a separate colony in 1859, and the new colony was named Queensland (Queen's land) in her honour. Similarly, Victoria was also named after Queen Victoria when the colony was established in 1851.
Ms Thorpe suggested the Victoria name change in an interview with The Herald Sun, in which she said: “Anything that's named after someone who's caused harm or murdered people, then I think we should take their name down.”
“Maybe that's something they (the Queensland government) could negotiate (in a treaty),” she explained to news.com.au.
“Given we're all talking about the colonial past and how everything's named as a result of invasion of this country, why wouldn't we negotiate that (name changes)?
“It may be that it stays the same. But why wouldn't we put that on the table? Maybe we need to be making decisions, changing place names, state names and anything else that causes harm.”
Victoria and Queensland are the second and third most populous states in Australia, with 5.6 million and 4.6 million inhabitants respectively.
Meanwhile, there are also growing calls for statues of Captain James Cook to be removed, although Prime Minister Scott Morrison defended Cook’s legacy by declaring there “was no slavery in Australia”.
It is a comment that he has since apologised for.
The petition for the Cairns statue to be removed has been signed by more than 12,000 people and reads: “Since 1972, the James Cook statue on Sheridan Street has stood as a symbol of colonialism and genocide.
“It's a slap in the face to all indigenous people,” it read.
“For us it represents dispossession, forced removal, slavery, genocide, stolen land, and loss of culture - among many other things.
“I am calling on Cairns Regional Council and Cairns Mayor Mr Bob Manning to take action today and remove this statue. This would be a huge step forward in uniting the community and honouring our First Nation's people.
“I also call on non-indigenous Australians to stand with us. The #BlackLivesMatter movement is as urgent here on your own doorsteps as it is on the streets of Minneapolis.
“For you to demand the removal of this offensive and outdated statue shows your willingness to look Australia's ugly history right in the eye, and say 'no more'.”
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton told 9News he wants the statues to stay.
“I don't think ripping pages out of history books and brushing over parts of history you don't agree with or you don't like is really something the Australian public is going to embrace,” he said.
“There are good and bad parts of our history. You learn from that.”
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has also voiced his support for the statues to stay.
“You can't rewrite history, you have to learn from it,” he told Sydney radio 2GB.
“The idea that you go back to year zero of history is, in my view, just quite frankly unacceptable.”
Mr Morrison has previously said he wanted to help the public to gain a better understanding of Captain Cook's historic voyage.
“That voyage is the reason Australia is what it is today and it's important we take the opportunity to reflect on it,” the PM said.
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