Rolf Harris guilty: Australia moves quickly to distance itself from 'embarrassing curiosity' after disgraced entertainer is jailed for sex abuse

Australia has moved to strip the entertainer of some of the numerous honours bestowed during a five-decade career

The conviction and sentencing of Rolf Harris this week for 12 counts of indecent assault has prompted a swift backlash in Australia as the country seeks to distance itself from one of its most famous sons.

The veteran entertainer, known in Australia as the "Boy from Bassendean", after the suburb of Perth where he was born, was found guilty of all 12 charges against him after a six-week trial in London and sentenced to five years and nine months in prison, capping a spectacular fall from grace.

Mr Harris, 84, assaulted four girls and young women aged from seven to 19 between 1968 and 1986, including his daughter Bindi's childhood best friend, the court found.

Just a day after a jury at Southwark Crown Court found Harris guilty, Australia moved to strip the entertainer of some of the numerous honours bestowed during a five-decade career.

"Following his conviction in UK courts, the ARIA Board has made the decision to withdraw the ARIA Hall of Fame award bestowed upon Rolf Harris," the Australian Recording Industry Association said in a statement on its website.

Australia Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he was "gutted and dismayed" by the sex crimes of Harris. The National Museum of Australia removed from display a leather jacket and two wobble boards that had been donated by the disgraced performer.

In a meeting this week the Perth city council voted to remove all his artworks from council chambers and rescind his status as a freeman. According to reports the plaque outside his childhood home was stolen before council officials could take it down. 

"We simply cannot tolerate the horrendous crimes for which he's been convicted," Bassendean Mayor John Gangell told ABC radio.

Harris' boyhood school has already removed his paintings - it's not clear what will become of the artworks. A public mural in Melbourne entitled "Entertainers of the Century" will see Harris' image painted over.

Read more: Rolf Harris sentenced to five years and nine months
Harris will not stand trial over child pornography allegations
Janet Street-Porter: Don't airbrush Rolf Harris from history

It seems likely now that Harris could also be stripped of his Order of Australia award, one the highest honours the nation can bestow.

The Australian press has also been swift in its backlash against the entertainer.

Tony Wright, writing in The Sydney Morning Herald describes Harris as an "embarrassing curiosity" and "kiddie fiddler".

"We were right from the start. The man was never cool at all. He was, and remains, an embarrassing curiosity", the column concludes.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test