The Turnbull Government will crack down on the vandalism of historic statues, with those caught defacing monuments of Captain James Cook set to face up to seven years in jail.
The plan, revealed by NewsCorp Australia on Sunday, would see statues over 100-years-old of the British explorer placed on the National Heritage List. That would mean they would be safeguarded under the heritage scheme's strict laws.
The federal government has reportedly asked the Heritage Council to look at placing a number of Captain Cook statues on the register to discourage attacks on the historic monuments.
The move comes after a statue of Cook in Sydney's Hyde Park was recently defaced along with statues of former NSW Governor Lachlan Macquarie and Queen Victoria.
They were emblazoned with politically-charged graffiti slogans while a bag was also placed over the head of Governor Macquarie.
At the time, Turnbull said the vandalism was similar to Soviet times.
"This is what Stalin did," he said on Facebook.
"When he fell out with his henchmen he didn't just execute them, they were removed from all official photographs – they became non-persons, banished not just from life's mortal coil but from memory and history itself."
The vandalism of the Sydney statues has reignited discussion about how to deal with Australia's complex colonial past and Indigenous history.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten has advocated placing an additional plaque on the Hyde Park Captain Cook statue to acknowledge how Australia has treated its Indigenous people since European settlement.