Conflicts over statues: The legal geographies of time, humour and violence

Mr Brad Jessup1

1The University of Melbourne


This paper concerns a conflict over a statue built by a wealthy landowner in the Margaret River wine making region in contravention of the Western Australian Planning and Development Act 2005. Despite community opposition to the statue, later expressed through the building of a ridiculing monument, and a refusal of the local council to grant a retrospective development approval, the landowners resisted dismantling it, and instead succeeded in obtaining approval from the State Administrative Tribunal of Western Australia in the case of Pivot Group Pty Ltd v Shire of Busselton [2007] WASAT 268.

Throughout the controversy and the legal process there was disagreement about the appropriateness of the statue in its place, and the values of the landscape and the suitability of a statute within the particular location.

This paper looks to see if any lessons can be drawn to explain the Margaret River controversy and to characterise a legal geography of permitted or removing statues by reference to the social movements to dismantle colonial and confederate statues and their intersections with historical and contemporary laws.


Brad Jessup ( has an Bachelor of Laws with Honours and a Bachelor of Science with Honours in Geography. He has a Masters of Philosophy in Environment, Society and Development, and is awaiting the examination of his PhD. Brad is a lecturer at Melbourne Law School, where he teaches subjects on environmental and planning law, contaminated land law, environmental rights, and tort law. His research interests include environmental justice  and legal geography. He has recently written on indigenous land claims in Indonesia, the South Australian nuclear citizens jury, and the regulation of pipelines in the peri-urban landscape.

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