A Queen Victoria statue has been drenched in red paint as vandals target colonial monuments across Melbourne ahead of Australia Day.
A statue of Captain Cook was also sawed down and defaced at Catani Gardens in St Kilda about 3.30am on Thursday.
The metal statue appears to have been cleanly sawn off from its stone base which was also been spray-painted in red with the words: “The colony will fall”.
Later in the morning, a large monument at Queen Victoria Gardens was discovered splashed with red paint.
Liberal MP Angus Taylor called the earlier incident an “egregious act of vandalism” and said it should be condemned.
“Captain Cook was a man of the enlightenment. Why would they do this to I think a great human being,” he said on Today.
“It’s another one of those acts that, frankly, uh, everyone should condemn.”
Port Phillip councillor Marcus Pearl described the incident as “disheartening” and called for the vandal to be “held to account for their actions.
“This is not a solitary act of mischief,” he said.
“It’s a repeated pattern of disrespect, especially evident around Australia Day for the past six years. Such acts blatantly disregard our community’s hard-fought principles of debate and democratic expression.”
The same statue has been the target of multiple vandalism attempts in recent years.
Twice it has been drenched in bright coloured paint, both in 2018 and 2022.
Mr Pearl urged people not to let this incident “fuel division” but instead drive “constructive, inclusive conversations”.
“Our community’s strength lies in its ability to engage in respectful and open discussions,” he said.
Members of the public first alerted police to the vandalism at 3.30am and an investigation is underway.
“Several people were seen loitering in the area around the time of the incident,” police said.
Contrary to common belief, Captain James Cook has no direct links to the modern celebration of Australia Day on January 26, beyond the fact he was among the first British people to land on Australian shores.
January 26 commemorates the anniversary of the First Fleet landing at Sydney Cove and the Union Jack Flag being raised to signal the beginning of colonisation in 1788.
Anyone with any information about the incident is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential report online at www.crimestoppersvic.com.au