A petition calling for the destruction of statues of white explorers from Australia’s colonial past has made the embarrassing mistake of including bush poet Henry Lawson on its hit list.
Artist Ailie Banks, 28, started the petition to remove statues of explorers such as William Wentworth and Gregory Blaxland in the Blue Mountains, 50km north-west of Sydney, after witnessing the Black Lives Matter movement unfold around the world.
Ms Banks wrongly identified a third statue as legendary Australian poet Henry Lawson – who wrote Freedom Of The Wallaby – instead of William Lawson, who joined Wentworth and Blaxland on the first European expedition to find a route across the mountains.
Artist Ailie Banks, 28, started the petition to remove statues of white explorers such as William Wentworth, William Lawson and Gregory Blaxland from the Blue Mountains
An earlier version of the petition accidentally names Henry Lawson, a poet, as the third bust instead of William Laweson
‘I would like to call for all glorified imagery such as “statues”, “busts” and the like of William Wentworth, Gregory Blaxland and Henry Lawson to be removed from public spaces,’ the petition read.
But Ms Banks told Daily Mail Australia the reaction to her error, which has since been corrected, proves ‘bigots will latch on to anything’ to discredit the movement to take down statues.
‘Rather than focusing on my typo let’s talk about racism in this country,’ she said.
She said she doesn’t want the statues defaced but instead replaced with busts of Indigenous people who have contributed to the community or Aboriginal art put up instead.
‘I cant imagine what would it would be like to be a First Nations person and see colonisers glorified,’ Ms Banks said.
Ms Banks also said she has received a lot of abuse online following the popularity of the petition – including imagery of Indigenous people being compared to monkeys and white people sporting blackface.
Blue Mountains Mayor Mark Greenhill told 2GB that the ‘statues would not be coming down’.
‘I just think there are much more important things when it comes to moving forward with Aboriginal communities than this conversation,’ he said.
He said the statues were put up in 2015 to honour the community coming together for the bi-centennial.
Indigenous leaders were consulted when it came to erecting the busts in 2015.
However Ms Banks said her error, which has now been rectified, is besides the point of the petition and that ‘bigots will latch onto anything’. Pictured: Henry Lawson
Politician Warren Mundine told the Daily Telegraph he thought the petition was racist.
‘It’s racist, quite frankly, they think they have to talk for us, we can talk for ourselves and make our own decisions,’ Mr Mundine said.
‘I laugh at some of these white people making these apologies, bowing and carrying on.
‘People say they’re pulling statues down because they’re racist but these people need to learn the facts and the history before they start running around … do not pretend you speak for Aboriginal people. We don’t need you to speak for us.’
Daily Mail Australia has contacted Blue Mountains City Council for comment.