Page 1808 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 4 May 2005
effect. Not only did it make the city look better by fixing up things like broken windows and graffiti but the crime rate also dropped by 40 per cent. So there are those ongoing effects.
Mr Hargreaves says that the government does not have any real responsibility if it happens on private property.
Mr Hargreaves: No, I did not—I said “not all”.
MR STEFANIAK: The government does have a responsibility, however, to uphold law and order and ensure that the laws are not broken. Graffiti vandalism is not the most heinous crime in the statute book—one could hardly equate it with crimes like selling drugs, murder, robbery or anything like that—but it is a significant crime in itself. It is malicious damage. It impacts on a lot of people and the government needs to do all it can to try to stop it.
As I said, I have noticed a lot of extra graffiti in the last 12 months. Whilst our former colleague Mr Cornwell was away for about a month prior to the election before last, I looked after his portfolio. During that time I had to do our urban services launch. Someone asked me to do that somewhere where the place looked tacky, and I thought I would do it in my electorate. It was rather difficult finding the best tacky spot because there were quite a few very tacky spots where there was lots of graffiti. I think I finally did it at the MacGregor shops.
It has not got much better. Looking around William Hovell Drive, Belconnen Way and Coulter Drive, there is ample evidence of graffiti everywhere. If you go around any suburb you will see examples of graffiti. Some of it is on private property, on colorbond fences or on wooden fences. Other examples are on things like Actew electricity boxes. There is indeed a plethora of unwanted graffiti in this city and I think it is high time the government did something about it.
Mr Hargreaves also said: what did the previous government do—nothing. He mentioned that we might have done something with the Crimes Act. I am not too sure if we did something with the Crimes Act—I think that in itself might be reasonably sufficient.
We did something that I would encourage you to do. In the very early days of the Carnell government in 1995—in fact it might have been an initiative in our first budget—the graffiti action squad in the Department of Urban Services was implemented by my then colleague Mr Tony De Domenico, better known as “the Dipper”, to clean up graffiti as quickly as possible after it occurred.
If you can remove it within 24 or 48 hours, often the graffiti vandals do not come back. But if they do come back and you keep removing it, they get sick of it. I would encourage you to do that, Mr Hargreaves. The amount of money you are spending on it is perhaps not dissimilar to what we did, except it was done a hell of a lot better then, for whatever reason. It was all done within urban services.
I think you are quite wrong to say that nothing occurred. I would commend you to go and have a look at what the anti-graffiti action squad did when it started as a result of, I think, the 1995-96 budget. You might find that that is very helpful to you.