Activist and former MP Lidia Thorpe is calling for the change as the state of Victoria was named after British Empress Queen Victoria. Ms Thorpe, who represented the Greens in the Victorian Legislative Assembly in 2017 and 2018, told The Herald Sun: “Anything that’s named after someone who’s caused harm or murdered people, then I think we should take their name down”.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are holding talks with local Australian parliaments to strike a treaty which would guarantee a fairer representation within the country and set out their rights in writing.
To date, Australia is the only Commonwealth country to lack an Indigenous treaty at a federal level.
Ms Thorpe, the first Aboriginal woman to be elected in the Victoria Parliament, believes this discussion over the state’s name should be included in the treaty talks.
She continued: “It could even stay the same if that’s what people want, if that’s part of the negotiation outcome of a treaty where everyone gets to understand both sides”.
Her proposal comes in the midst of the Black Lives Matter protests.
Sparked after the death of George Floyd in Minnesota, the protests have spread across the world, with several activists and citizens asking for the removal of statues of politicians or country leaders which have been involved in slavery or the oppression of minorities.
Among the monuments in Australia up for review there could soon be the statues of Melbourne co-founder John Batman, involved in the hunting of the First Peoples in Tasmania.
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City of Melbourne councillor Nicholas Reece told 3AW: “There’s a number of monuments and statues to John Batman in Melbourne, and I think there’s a case to be made around perhaps them being given a less prominent place in our city.”
A 50-year-old statue of Captain Cook in Cairns could also be tore down after activists petitioned in favour of this move over the British captain’s treatment of Aboriginal people upon his arrival in Australia.
The petition has branded the statue a “slap in the face to all indigenous people”.
Signed so far by more than 12,000 people, the petition 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.
“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 appeared to be against the removal of the statue.
He told 9News: “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.
“There are good and bad parts of our history. You learn from that.”
Similarly, opposition leader Anthony Albanese voiced his support for the statue to stay.
He told Sydney radio 2GB: “You can’t rewrite history, you have to learn from it.
“The idea that you go back to year zero of history is in my view, just quite frankly unacceptable.”
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