Former politician David Evans wants Victoria's Health Minister Jill Hennessy to change laws surrounding the desecration of graves as part of his campaign to remove plaque on bushranger Dan Morgan's grave

Resting place: The burial plot of bushranger Dan Morgan which is in a corner of the Wangaratta cemetery close to the Presbyterian section near Tone Road.
Resting place: The burial plot of bushranger Dan Morgan which is in a corner of the Wangaratta cemetery close to the Presbyterian section near Tone Road.

VICTORIA’S Health Minister is being urged to change laws governing cemeteries to remove a “highly inaccurate” plaque on the grave of bushranger Dan Morgan.

Retired North East politician David Evans has written to minister Jill Hennessy seeking a legislative change.

His move follows the Wangaratta Cemetery Trust, whose graveyard hosts Morgan’s remains, dismissing his plea to remove the plaque.

Trust chairman and Wangaratta mayor Ken Clarke stood by the sign which labels Morgan as Mad Dog and a “fearsome figure” who “terrorised the region”.

“It will remain as it was, we don’t believe it’s derogatory,” Mr Clarke said.

Captured in death: A photograph of bushranger Dan Morgan after he was shot dead at Peechelba in 1865.

Captured in death: A photograph of bushranger Dan Morgan after he was shot dead at Peechelba in 1865.

“We know that he was to be shot on sight, where the Mad Dog came from I don’t know, no-one can fill us in on that.”

In reply to Mr Evans, the trust last year sought public opinion on the plaque’s fate and Mr Clarke said all four responses backed retention.

Mr Evans has wanted the plaque removed for 25 years, suggesting only wording akin to “Sacred to the memory of Daniel Morgan shot at Peechelba on 9th April 1865”, which originally was on the grave, was appropriate.

Pointer: The sign which greets visitors to Wangaratta cemetery's Tone Road entrance.

Pointer: The sign which greets visitors to Wangaratta cemetery's Tone Road entrance.

He wants Ms Hennessy to amend a section of Victoria’s Cemeteries and Crematoria Act so that it would make it an offence for cemetery trusts to “desecrate” memorials and places of interment.

In his letter to the minister, Mr Evans describes Morgan as an “unlovely character” and notes his grandfather was taken hostage by the bushranger and his great uncle had a confrontation with him.

Spiel: The undated plaque outlining Dan Morgan's biography which former politician David Evans believes is inaccurate and should be removed.

Spiel: The undated plaque outlining Dan Morgan's biography which former politician David Evans believes is inaccurate and should be removed.

But he argues the plaque was based on a book and film Mad Dog Morgan that were “highly imaginative”.

“I submit that both….have little credibility and in consequence the plaque also is not credible,” Mr Evans wrote in his letter.

The former Upper House MP and ex-Wangaratta councillor told The Border Mail he believed it was wrong for anybody, other than families, to affix signs to graves.

“I’d like it taken off altogether because it’s very poor history and I don’t believe it’s appropriate,” Mr Evans said. 

“To put a 400-word denunciation on a person’s grave is completely inappropriate.”