Suggestions of a statue of former prime minister Tony Abbott being erected in the Sydney beachside and harbourside centre of Manly has prompted current PM Scott Morrison to bring forward the announcement of another tribute to a past Liberal Party leader.
Mr Morrison took the opportunity of John Howard’s 80th birthday to unveil plans for a massive 100-metre tall statue of the former long-serving prime minister to be erected in the forecourt of the Sydney Opera House.
“How good is John Howard?,” Mr Morrison said when releasing an artist’s impression of the proposed statue to be built of steel (main picture).
While there had been rumours of a tribute to Mr Howard on his landmark birthday, the news of the statue was greeted with some shock by political observers and those in the arts community.
Prominent sculptor Mervyn De Prave said it was an unusual choice for the government to memorialise Mr Howard as a young man in the early stages of his political career in the 1970s.
“Nevertheless, the fact that he will be seen for eternity as a man of steel outside our nation’s most iconic building in his flared safari suit and with his original crooked teeth is a bold statement and one which should be applauded,” Mr De Prave said.
He said he supported the idea of a statue but did not favour a suggestion to use the giant John Howard as an observation platform.
“I have heard some people in the government want to install a lift to take people to a platform in his head where they can look out over the Sydney CBD from his eyebrows,” Mr De Prave said.
“But I think that would just cheapen the whole thing.”
Mr Morrison did not reveal the cost of the statue, or who would construct it.
When asked about such details he dismissed the queries.
“I’m not interested in that sort of Canberra bubble talk. Let’s focus on the most important thing about this statue, and that is: How good is John Howard?” Mr Morrison said.