Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 8 Hansard (3 August) . . Page.. 3313..
Bill, by leave, taken as a whole.
MS DUNDAS (12.12): I move amendment No 1 circulated in my name [see schedule 1 at page 3380].
I think the major issue that we are debating is the difference between graffiti, street art and tagging, and that has become quite apparent in this debate. Looking through the current roads and public places legislation and the amendment bill before us today there is no definition that covers graffiti, there is no definition that talks about the difference between street art and tagging, and I think that is something that we need to explore further.
When we have had these debates in the Assembly there has been discussion about the viability of street art and the difference between it and tagging, and there has been some discussion about working with the ministerial youth council on how we can work through these issues. So considering that there is no definition of graffiti, no definition of street art and no definition of tagging in the law, I think it is important that the government does not have the power to immediately remove something-graffiti that could be street art, or it could be tagging-without at least asking the owners of the property whether they believe it is street art and if they want it to remain.
The minister said that he will be focusing on giving directions to tag removal contractors to maybe have further discussion with owners of property about whether something is street art. I welcome those moves from the minister and I hope that they are followed through. But I think it is important that we start to have the discussion about what we are targeting here, what we are recognising as legitimate street art and what we are not. This legislation does not provide any scope for that broader discussion. I think the wording that it will immediately be removed without discussion limits the ability for street art to take its legitimate place in our community.
I have moved my amendment so that there can be at least some discussion before street art is removed and so that there is at least some protection in ensuring that street art has a legitimate part to play in the community. Maybe we need to go further and look at the difference between tagging and street art so that tagging, as the major problem that we are seeing, can be removed efficiently and immediately.
MR WOOD (Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services, Minister for Urban Services, Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Minister for Arts and Heritage, and Acting Minister for Health) (12.14): The government will not agree to the amendment. I think it is a mistake to expect that you can just absolutely do everything in legislation. I know people like to tie things down, make it firm, make it secure, but it is a mistake to think you can do everything in legislation. Ms Dundas, I would say to you that this amendment does not achieve anything other than saying no to the bill that is before us. If you want to say no to the bill, say no.
The problem we face is you could walk up to a property, see the owner pretty well straight away and be told that it was not needed. But it does not work out like that. This