A vandal who defaced Parliament House with swastikas last night is believed to be behind a similar attack on the Melbourne Town Hall, which also was plastered with graffiti.
Police are examining CCTV of a man wearing dark clothing who was captured on camera spray-painting at least four orange swastikas on the front of Parliament House in Spring Street at 8.12pm yesterday. One of the giant swastikas was painted over parliament’s bronze plaque.
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Senior Sergeant Ian Lindsay said the suspect, believed to be in his late 30s, took just minutes to carry out his attack.
Similar graffiti has also been found on the Town Hall this morning.
"He’s alone at this stage but we’re making further inquiries to see whether a second person was involved in this," Senior Sergeant Lindsay told radio station 3AW.
He said the man was aged in his late 30s or early 40s, about 182 centimetres tall and was wearing dark clothing and carrying a small bag, with a medium build and a beard. He was wearing a hooded top and carried a duffle bag.
At least two pillars outside the Town Hall on Swanston Street were also graffitied with the same paint, he said.
Premier Ted Baillieu blasted the use of Nazi symbols to deface Parliament House as appalling, ignorant, stupid and offensive.
He said the building was monitored 24 hours a day by protective service officers and security cameras, however the vandal attack occurred in an area that wasn’t "immediately observable from the cameras".
Protective service officers reported the graffiti to police about 2am.
"I would encourage anybody who is thinking that way to get themselves a lesson in history, no matter how brief, and try and understand how offensive that can be," Mr Baillieu told 3AW about the use of the swastika.
He said the Nazi symbol had been displayed at some recent demonstrations in the city.
"Some of those demonstrations included people who were protesting on a wide range of issues, and included some bikies, so I think we have to be very careful about this," he said.
"We have a fantastic multicultural base in Victoria, and Melbourne in particular, and we need to work very hard to make sure it remains so."
He said security vision was being examined from Parliament House, and police would investigate whether further footage was available from surrounding businesses.
Senior Sergeant Lindsay later defended the role of the security guards, and said there was only a "minimal delay" between the time the graffiti was sprayed and when the guards noticed.
He said the guards were not often at street level, and instead patrolled the steps and neighbouring grounds of Parliament House.
"I don’t think it’s disappointing. They picked it up and noticed the graffiti, they’ve reported it which deems their presence is warranted, justified and working," he said.
"We’d like to see the timesframes a lot quicker as it would help in our investigation but that’s a matter we will have to look at and review with the department."
Senior Sergeant Lindsay described the attack as "senseless and demeaning".
"These types of incidents we’ve seen today are isolated, it's obviously someone trying to get a message out. How silly that message is is reflective on the type of slogans that were placed," he said.
Senior Sergeant Lindsay said the offender could face a possible jail term.
Anyone who saw the man in the area last night or who has information about the attacks has been urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
With Raquel Geremia