Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 8 Hansard (3 August) . . Page.. 3308..
Roads and Public Places (Vandalism) Amendment Bill 2004
Debate resumed from 14 May 2004, on the motion by Mr Wood:
That this bill be agreed to in principle.
MR CORNWELL (11.48): On behalf of the opposition, I rise to support this legislation. This necessary step will allow a number of things to be done. I accept the government's argument about the removal of graffiti from private property. I understand that difficulties have arisen because of the approval of the owner or the occupier being required. The owner of a rental property can often be out of town. The occupier, be it an owner or a renter, can often be at work. So on occasions it is extremely difficult for the government to obtain the agreement to remove graffiti from very visible places, and Hindmarsh Drive is a good example of this vandalism.
The legislation also seeks to reduce the time that the owner of an abandoned vehicle is given to remove their vehicle from seven to two days. After two days the government will oblige. I believe that both of these amendments are necessary and important.
It is important to note that whilst the government can remove graffiti there is no obligation on it to clean up graffiti on commercial buildings or, I presume, private property. The government has this option but people are still responsible for removing graffiti from commercial premises in particular.
I understand that property groups, including the Property Council and the Real Estate Institute, support this legislation and I see no reason why anybody else should be against it. I would, however, make the point that whilst this legislation deals with one side of the graffiti question, it does not address the very serious issue of graffiti in this city. Much more needs to be done than having the government clean up somebody else's mess.
It is perhaps unfortunate timing for the government that yesterday I received an answer to a question on notice on this very matter. Mr Wood would be aware of this. In my question on notice I asked how many graffiti offences were committed from 1 July 2003 to 30 June 2004. I was told that some 21 offences were recorded. The results of these offences are frankly appalling. There was one arrest. That person was convicted and his sentence was 24 hours community service-boy oh boy! A caution was given in the case of five of them and no further action was taken; three have been charged before the court, with one to be heard, one convicted with a community service order-that must have been terrifying-and one not proceeding; a diversionary conference with two of the offenders, with no further action; a summons for 10, seven yet to be heard, one convicted, two not proceeding.
This is simply not a good record for this government, which purports to be doing something about graffiti. I think you will find that most people in this city regard this issue as important. They certainly regard the vandalism out there as offensive and they want something done about it. Twenty-one offences recorded over 12 months is certainly not doing anything about this type of behaviour and it seems to me that it certainly gives the green light to vandals to continue their depredations around what I remind members