Statue vandals face tough new penalties
Vandals already face up to five years in jail and high fines, but those who deface historic statues could be slapped with even tougher penalties if attacks continue.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she would consider toughening laws to deter future vandalism, after a second James Cook statue was damaged in Sydney.
Two women were charged with defacing a statue of the British explorer with spray paint in Hyde Park in the city on Saturday night.
Police said another statue was discovered spray painted in the eastern suburb of Randwick in an unrelated attack.
"I wish it didn't come to this and I want to stress that it's only a very, very small percentage of the population that's engaging in this activity, the vast majority of us don't condone it, we think it's disrespectful, it's un- Australian," Ms Berejiklian said.
"I urge everyone - no matter how passionate are their views - not to break the law.
"The penalties in place are already severe - up to five years in jail and high fines … but we're always open to increasing this."
One of the women charged over the Hyde Park incident is Xiaoran Shi, 28, a staff member of Greens MP David Shoebridge.
The women were charged with destroy or damage property.
Shi and her alleged accomplice Charmaine Morrison-Mills, 27, were released on bail from a Sydney court yesterday.
Ms Berejiklian said Mr Shoebridge "needs to stand up and condemn the actions".
Mr Shoebridge said he was aware of the allegations.
"They were not engaged in employment at the time of the incident which occurred well outside of work hours," he said in a statement.
Victorian police are also investigating the defacing of statues in Ballarat.
The statues of former Australian prime ministers Tony Abbott and John Howard were sprayed with red paint on Saturday morning.
A Captain James Stirling statue in Perth, Western Australia was on Friday also defaced and a 30-year-old man has been charged with criminal damage or destruction of property.
The statue's neck and hands were painted red and an Aboriginal flag was painted over the inscription at the base.
Around the world, statues have been toppled by crowds attending Black Lives Matter or anti-racism protests.
The protests have followed African-American man George Floyd's alleged murder by a Minneapolis policeman.
Cities have been taking steps to remove statues that represent cultural or racial oppression.
Originally published as Statue vandals face tough new penalties