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
Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory