Page 1799 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 4 May 2005

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . .

What attitude underlines this failure of action to deter graffiti? Is it philosophical? Does Jon Stanhope order his minister and the department to go soft on graffiti vandals? Does he order that no action should be taken? Does Mr Stanhope think that it is okay to deface the people’s buildings, particularly if it is political graffiti attacking his political enemy? Or is the government just bone idle, as it is in every area of good governance and the fundamental delivery, or non-delivery, of services?

Whatever the unfathomable attitude permeating this government is, they do not care to prevent graffiti. They do not care to deter offenders. They do not care to clean up graffiti on time, unless, of course, it is politically embarrassing to leave it on display. Then we have some poor hapless and confused urban services officer and contractors out to clean it up immediately. How pathetic!

The government’s graffiti management strategy, introduced in August last year, is clearly not working. Firstly, the community looks as graffiti stricken as it ever has. Secondly, it takes too long to have graffiti removed, even if it is offensive, although the government’s policy boast is that it will remove offensive graffiti within 24 hours. Recently it took seven days, after much complaining, for offensive, explicit graffiti to be removed from a school crossing. Many more stories of this calibre come to my attention. Thirdly, the government’s policy basically depends on cleanup and not prevention. Vandals instinctively know they are not going to be caught and, if they are caught, they do not seem to be hit with any serious penalties. The government’s policy is a reactive policy, rather than a preventative policy, which it must become. The government’s policy reflects in fact a soft-on-crime approach to tackling the crime of graffiti.

The Stanhope government’s graffiti management strategy, introduced in August 2004, is just that. It is a management strategy, not a prevention strategy and not a reduction strategy. It is almost as if graffiti does not matter: it is a minor miscellaneous issue. It is almost funny, in light of the current proliferation of this graffiti rash that has appeared all over Canberra’s epidermis, that the first objective in the ACT government’s graffiti management strategy is to “enhance the ACT’s built and natural environment by reducing the incidents of graffiti vandalism within the ACT and its cost to the community”. Members should note the reference to “graffiti vandalism”. They know that it is a crime. Yet the cost to the community has not decreased and definitely will not decrease now, especially with the introduction of the new levy, supposedly for graffiti cleanup, which has now been imposed on business.

A further objective of the government’s graffiti management strategy is that the government will “promote a do-it-yourself approach in responding to illegal graffiti issues at a local community level”. Again, they are clearly shifting the onus for dealing with the problem away from the government and placing the burden on our law-abiding and hard working citizens to clean up the mess the graffiti vandals have left behind.

What the Stanhope government is really saying is that the cost to the government on paper will go down, but the cost of graffiti cleanup will simply be shifted onto the community, the business sector and the private property owner. In other words, the cost will miraculously be removed from, or significantly reduced in, the ACT government’s books so that they can say, “The cost of graffiti cleanup has fallen.” They will claim that there has been some miraculous reduction of the problem. However, all that will really

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . .