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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 12 Hansard (19 November) . . Page.. 4311 ..

MS DUNDAS (continuing):

the use of paint-such as that created with rocks, keys and coins-and techniques for estimating the cost of removal associated with various substances, such as paint, walls, coins and glass.

It appears that Mr Cornwell really has not looked at the issue in a holistic sense. He is trying to stop graffiti by preventing the sale of spray cans to a proportion of the community, without really looking at whether the sale of cans is leading to graffiti or whether stopping the sale of cans will lead to other forms of graffiti. This approach does not address the underlying social issues.

I have spoken before about how this legislation has symbolic and practical impacts on young people. The symbolism of the legislation is that we are effectively saying to young people, "You are not to be trusted."The bill says to young people that we believe there is no legitimate reason for them to purchase spray cans, despite some very obvious examples to the contrary and, because a tiny fraction of their peers commit the occasional act of vandalism, they will all be punished.

Banning the sale of spray cans to under 18s will not reduce graffiti. It will only serve to further alienate young people and increase the likelihood that they will find themselves in a downward spiral in the criminal justice system. There are many measures to reduce graffiti that do not involve stigmatising young people. This legislation is not one of them and Ms Tucker spoke at length about alternative programs.

I want to discuss what has happened in Queensland, because I believe that this legislation is a step in that direction. Queensland has laws banning young people from carrying-just carrying-Nikko pens, thick magic markers, if the police have a reasonable suspicion the pens are being used for graffiti. People have been charged, the penalty being a maximum of two years in jail-two years in jail for carrying a pen not much bigger than this one.

According to youth legal advocates in Queensland, it is the single offence for which young people are most likely to be charged but of which they are least likely to be convicted. They are brought into the criminal justice system for carrying a pen, which means they have a negative relationship with the police. They are not likely to be convicted, so the charge does not stand up in court. It involves young people in the youth justice system unnecessarily and the relationship that young people have with police further degenerates as a result. That is what happened in Queensland and the legislation before us is a step in that direction. We are reacting in a knee-jerk fashion to graffiti: we will be saying that spray cans cannot be sold to young people and that, if young people have them, they are obviously undertaking criminal activity.

This piece of legislation will not promote positive relations between young people and the police, it will not promote positive relations between young people and legislators, and it will not promote positive relations between shop owners and young people. All of these things should be considered when we are looking at this legislation. We should realise that young people are part of this community and that what this legislation does is say that we do not think that they are normal people, that we do not think they are part of this community, like everybody else, and that there should be special rules for them in relation to spray cans. That is a very regressive step and a very negative step, and so I will wholeheartedly oppose this legislation.

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