Mar 31, 2017

Should we rename buildings whose namesakes turn out to be objectionable?

As Melbourne University renames the Richard Berry Building on account of eugenics, it's time to ask: should we expect those who lend their names to things to remain of unimpeachable moral character?

Michael Bradley — Managing partner at Marque Lawyers

Michael Bradley

Managing partner at Marque Lawyers

Arguably the loveliest spot in Sydney is Mrs Macquarie’s Chair. The city’s surviving sandstone grandeur owes much to the legacy of her husband Lachlan Macquarie, governor of NSW from 1810 to 1821. Macquarie Street, Macquarie University and Macquarie Bank, among many landmarks and institutions, mark his memory as a giant of Australia’s colonial period.

He was also a bit inclined towards genocide. In 1816, Macquarie declared a covert war against the remaining Aboriginal tribes around Sydney. His written instruction to the commander of the 46th Regiment (slightly edited) was explicit:

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