Tamworth Regional Council has quickly painted over the John Oxley anchor memorial, after it was vandalised with the word “invasion” in a targeted Australia Day protest.
Mayor Col Murray said council didn’t hesitate to restore the anchor to its former glory.
“We’re not sure if it belongs to council, but it does belong to the community,” Cr Murray said.
“It’s a shame a topic of debate has translated into vandalism. This is the day for all Australians.”
Indigenous community leader Marc Sutherland said given the large scale protests that happened across the country, he wasn’t surprised to learn about the incident.
“In Melbourne, 50,000 gathered in Federation Square in protest of Australia Day,” he said.
While Mr Sutherland couldn’t comment on the Oxley memorial protest specifically, he said there was a level of frustration in the community.
“It’s disappointing we’ve come to this level of frustration where people have to make statements like this to be heard,” he said.
“A lot of people are working hard to advocate on behalf of Aboriginal rights, and there is extreme frustration when those efforts are constantly ignored.”
Mr Sutherland said to many Aboriginals, January 26, 1788, was a difficult date to celebrate, because it marked the started of their oppression.
“That may sound strong, but that is how many in the local Indigenous community feel,” he said.