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Are Brisbane's statues racist?

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For a city with so many fabulous statues, I was shocked to find one thing missing.

There are no statues of any Aborigines among the dozens of representational and abstract sculptures dotted around the centre of the city.  It got me thinking that maybe our statues - or at least or choice of subjects - might be somewhat racist.

Don't get me wrong.  Everyone knows I don't subscribe to what has been described as the "black armband view of history", but there are very many fabulous Aboriginal men and women who have contributed enormously to our city and our state, and they deserve a place among us.

Let's just consider who is commemorated in statuary.  Naturally enough we have King George V in King George Square, and Queen Victoria in the Queens Gardens.  This is Queensland after all. 

But lest anyone say that this is some sort of monarchist conspiracy, we also have a statue of T.J. Ryan, a Labor Premier of Queensland in the same park.  Queenslanders are nothing if not fair.

There is also a general, Sir William Glasgow, who peers out from Post Office Square on Anzac Square.  And Anzac Square itself has an assortment of horsemen, soldiers and nurses, and even a Fuzzy Wuzzy Angel.  

Brisbane also has statues of Confucius, Hippocrates, Themis and Robert Burns, not that any of them ever set foot in the country, let alone Brisbane.

So why are Aboriginal Queenslanders neglected?  It doesn't seem right.

We could do no better than to start with the late Neville Bonner, a Liberal Party Senator for Queensland, and the first Indigenous person elected to federal Parliament.  Neville Bonner was a man of wit, grace and principle, who began life as a bridge carpenter, working for the railways.  As a senator he went on to be a bridge builder of another kind, who worked hard to bring Australians of different races together.

Another outstanding choice would be Lloyd McDermott.  He was the first Indigenous Australian to play for the Wallabies, and the first Indigenous barrister.  However, it was his withdrawal from the 1963 tour against the Springboks because he refused to be made an "Honorary White" that smacks of greatness and dignity.  He truly is a man of whom we can all be proud.

Then there is Len Waters, the Aboriginal RAAF fighter pilot of the Second World War.  Having grown up dreaming of heroes like Charles Kingsford-Smith and Bert Hinkler, Waters would go on to fly 95 combat missions over places like New Guinea and Borneo.

Senator Jo Lindgren thinks that Bilin Bilin, an ancestor to herself and her great-uncle Neville Bonner, would be another worthy subject for a statue.

"Bilin Bilin is testament to Aboriginal reliance; a man who knew that coexistence, not fighting, was the only future for all of us," she says.

That didn't just make sense then, but it makes sense now as well.

If we are to have a strong and united country, then we must recognise all of the great people from our past, regardless of race.  

It strikes me that Queensland doesn't want for Indigenous champions, it wants for their recognition.

* Correction: An earlier version of this story had an error in the caption. This is not the Sir William Glasgow statue in Post Office Square.