Historic plan to remove William Crowther statue given green light

Published on 15 May 2024


The City of Hobart welcomes the Tasmanian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (TASCAT) decision to dismiss an appeal against the Council's decision to remove the William Crowther statue from Franklin Square.

This decision marks a significant milestone in a process that began several years ago and will see Hobart become the first city in Australia to decide to remove a colonial statue.

The Council’s decision made originally in 2022 underscores the Council's commitment to truth-telling about the many aspects and perspectives of Hobart’s colonial history.

Council made the decision to remove the statue following a rigorous process that included multiple rounds of consultation, public engagement, and education that began in 2020.

Following the 2022 decision there was an in-depth planning approvals process and the need for approval from the State Heritage Council.

Throughout the Crowther Reinterpreted Project, the City of Hobart sought and received independent and comprehensive heritage and planning advice to ensure the recommended actions were informed and responsible.

"We are very pleased that the independent planning tribunal has verified our decision," said Hobart Lord Mayor Anna Reynolds.

"This has been a very careful and consultative process, and the tribunal's decision supports our commitment to telling the truth about our colonial history. It is a critical step for Hobart in acknowledging and addressing the darker aspects of our past.

"The story of what happened in Hobart during the colonial period, including the actions of individuals like Crowther and others in Hobart’s medical fraternity, is an important part of our history.

"By removing the statue and commissioning a new work, we create space in our central civic square to tell a broader, deeper and more truthful story of our colonial past.

“Much of this history is currently untold. This is our city’s hidden history."

The appellant has 30 days to appeal TASCAT’s decision.

The removal of the statue is stage three in the project which aims to provide a more comprehensive and truthful narrative of Hobart's colonial period and what was taking place during that time.

The next stage involves installing temporary signage that will offer deeper insights into the historical context of the time, specifically the actions and impacts of William Crowther and his treatment of Aboriginal people's remains.

The final stage will involve commissioning a new work that tells a broader and more truthful story about the colonial period, encompassing the experiences and perspectives of the Indigenous community and the broader societal implications of the era.

Cr Reynolds also said how disappointed she was that the statue was the target of vandalism overnight, resulting in it being cut from the plinth.

“We strongly condemn this vandalism,” Cr Reynolds said.

“Vandalism doesn't build bridges, it doesn't build goodwill, it is unlawful and so it's disappointing that vandalism that took place when the decision was a very positive one.”

For background information on Crowther Reinterpreted please see - Crowther Reinterpreted - City of Hobart, Tasmania Australia (hobartcity.com.au)