Bondi Beach mural vandalised after council reject removal calls

A woman takes a picture of Luke Cornish's mural on Bondi Beach in Sydney Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Luke Cornish's mural has received mixed reviews and calls for removal

A controversial mural at Sydney's Bondi Beach in Australia has been vandalised after councillors rejected calls to remove it.

The mural, painted by artist Luke Cornwall in July, was defaced on Wednesday.

The piece showing 24 Australian Border Force officers below the words "not… welcome to Bondi" has divided opinion.

Mr Cornwall said he painted the mural to highlight Australia's policy towards asylum-seekers.

But some had called for it to be painted over, calling it "offensive" and "politicised".

On Tuesday night, the council voted to keep the artwork after debating a motion to have it removed.

Vandals struck hours later, daubing the artwork with a streak of white paint.

Mr Cornwall said he was "amazed it lasted more than two days" given the fractious debate it has sparked.

"I don't want to offend people, but I did this to raise awareness of asylum-seeker policy," Mr Cornwall told ABC Australia.

New South Wales Police said a report of "malicious damage" to the artwork is being investigated. CCTV from Bondi Beach is also being reviewed by Waverley Council.

John Wakefield, mayor of the council, said it was regrettable that vandals had "taken the law into their own hands".

A petition complained the mural was "inappropriate" for children and tourists.

"I personally feel that any depictions of guns is dangerous, and it's [got] no place at Bondi Beach," Travis Russell, who started the petition, told ABC Sydney radio.

The 24 Australian Border Force officers in the artwork symbolised "the 24 suicides in detention facilities" since 2010, Mr Cornwall wrote in an Instagram post recently.

"It was there to push boundaries and to create dialogue," he told 10Daily. "Even though it's been painted over, it has done its job."

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Media captionAn Afghan man describes why he wants to seek asylum in Australia in 2013

Australia's policy on asylum seekers has come under intense scrutiny in the past.

Allegations of human rights abuses and overcrowding have dogged Australia's detention centre in the South Pacific island of Nauru for years.

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