2 July 2024

Prime Minister slams 'unworthy' perpetrators behind graffiti attacks on Canberra war memorials

| Claire Fenwicke
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Free Gaza graffiti

Most of the recent pro-Palestine graffiti has been cleared from Anzac Parade following the latest vandalism. Photo: Sophie Lawler.

The Prime Minister has called for the “book to be thrown” at the person or persons responsible for vandalism attacks on Canberra’s war memorials in recent months.

The Vietnam and Korean War memorials on Anzac Parade were sprayed with pro-Palestinian graffiti at the weekend, with slogans such as “Free Gaza”, “No War” and “Blood on Your Hands”.

During Parliamentary Question Time on Monday (1 July), Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce challenged Anthony Albanese about his stance on the “disgraceful desecration” that had occurred.

The Prime Minister didn’t hold back.

“I don’t know what goes through someone’s head in thinking that a cause – any cause – is advanced by the desecration of what are sacred sites here in Australia,” he said.

“There have been a range of, frankly, idiotic criminal actions while the Middle East conflict has been going on … but nothing, nothing is as bad as the desecration of those memorials.”

Mr Albanese expressed his wish that those responsible would be found and face the “full force of the law”.

“We know what they are: they are unworthy, unworthy of having any respect and any leniency as a result of their own actions.”

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It’s not the first time memorials have been targeted by pro-Palestine slogans in Canberra.

The Australian War Memorial was vandalised on 14 June and the National Vietnam War Memorial was targeted in March.

The ABC office in Dickson has also been graffitied several times this year, and memorials and other infrastructure at Lennox Gardens, Yarralumla, were vandalised in the first week of January.

ACT Policing Chief Police Officer Scott Lee said the investigation into all the incidents was ongoing, and officers were focusing on whether the same person was involved in each instance.

“But also we’re keeping an open mind on whether there may be multiple people involved or people involved in different incidents,” he said.

Another avenue of inquiry being examined is whether the theft of the Sir Joseph Banks memorial sculpture at the Australian National Botanic Gardens is also linked.

It’s believed the statue was taken between 3 pm and 3:25 pm on Tuesday (25 June) from its plinth near the gardens’ information kiosk.

The sculpture is made of brass and weighs about 25 kg.

bust sculpture

It’s not confirmed whether the theft of the Sir Joseph Banks sculpture is linked to the graffiti attacks on Canberra war memorials, but it is an avenue of inquiry. Photo: ACT Policing.

CPO Lee said ACT Policing respected that everyone had a right to free speech but warned damaging memorials wasn’t the way to go.

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“Particularly when you look at the memorials that have been targeted … they’re very much commemorating extremely brave women and men who have served our country and have sacrificed everything for our country. So that type of graffiti just won’t be tolerated,” he said.

“People need to ensure they exercise their freedom of speech within the law.”

Search warrants were executed at a Macquarie home on Friday (28 June) in relation to the graffiti incidents but no arrests have been made at this time.

Original Article published by Claire Fenwicke on Riotact.

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