Ben Chifley without his pipe, left, and front.

THE iconic statue of prime ministers Ben Chifley and John Curtin has been vandalized with Chifley’s pipe sawed through his mouth.

The $200,000 Peter Corlett bronze sculpture, on Walpole Cresent in Barton, was commissioned by the ACT government in 2010. It recreates a photograph taken by Don Stephens in 1945 of Curtin and Chifley, then Treasurer, on a walk they often took from the Kurrajong Hotel to the Old Houses of Parliament.

John Curtin was Australia’s 14th Prime Minister (1941-45) and Ben Chifley would become his 16th (1945-49). Both strongly promoted Canberra as the nation’s new capital.

Iconic 1945 photo by Don Stephens showing Curtin and Chifley on a walk they often took from the Kurrajong Hotel to the Old Houses of Parliament.

Curtin and Chifley regularly traveled this route to the Provisional (Old) Parliament from the nearby Kurrajong Hotel, where Labor MPs usually stayed while Parliament was in session.

Then-Chief Minister Jon Stanhope said at the time the work was commissioned: ‘It reflects an important time in Canberra’s social history when politicians stayed at the Kurrajong Hotel and walked to in Parliament.”

It was unveiled by Prime Minister Julia Gillard on September 16, 2011.

Corlett is a prominent Australian figurative sculptor, best known for his full-figure portrait sculptures cast in bronze, including the Australian War Memorial sculpture of Simpson and his donkey.

Ben Chifley, right, minus his pipe.

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Ian Meikle, editor