Page 1809 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 4 May 2005

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I think it is grossly unfair for the government to flag in its budget that it is going to put a tax on property owners and business owners in Civic to clean up graffiti. I think the minister’s comments to Mr Pratt on that are indicative of an attitude within the Labor Party. He said, “Your rich mates can afford to rip it off themselves.”

Mr Hargreaves: Yes.

MR STEFANIAK: He confirms that. Mr Pratt, whether they are rich or not, they should not have to remove it if they did not put it there. They are, in fact, innocent victims of it.

Mr Hargreaves: We didn’t put it on!

MR STEFANIAK: No, I am not saying you did; I am asking why on earth should they have to do it. With respect to that typical bigoted ALP response, might I tell you that there are a lot of businesses in Civic, which are not rich and are struggling, which can certainly do without unwarranted graffiti on their premises. I think it is very unfair to expect them to pay extra taxes for graffiti to be removed, when it should be the role of the government to do its best to prevent it in the first place.

I would be the first to say that I do not expect you to completely wipe it out. I have absolutely no problems with some legal graffiti art sites. We did that ourselves. I do not know if you need quite as many as you have. That in itself is certainly not going to stop it, because some people simply do it in the area they live in. You cannot have about 150 legal graffiti art sites. Even then, I do not think you would stop it completely.

I do not think that in itself is a panacea that is going to end it. I do not think anyone here has a problem with legal graffiti art—some of it is indeed quite attractive—but to hang your hat on just that I think is a very real problem.

If you want me to make a few suggestions as to how you might minimise it, apart from going back into your department and having a look at the Dipper’s anti-graffiti squad, might I also commend to you Mr Cornwell’s bill in the last Assembly, which was naturally defeated by the comrades over there, to ban the sale of spray cans for under-18s.

Dr Foskey probably does not like that idea at all but it has been shown to work pretty effectively in other parts of the country. It does not stop legal graffiti, because that can be done properly, but it has a big impact on illegal graffiti. It is not a great impost on anyone who wants to lawfully use paint cans. It works elsewhere and I would commend that to you, Mr Hargreaves.

You mentioned—and you read out quite accurately—the powers available to the courts. I would impress upon the courts that they should also look at something that is effective and which they occasionally do. That is, when people are apprehended, make the person who is picked up, charged and found guilty of placing graffiti on something clean it off themselves. That has a very salutary effect. That is something that I think should happen in more instances than not, because it brings home to the person, be they young or not, that it is an antisocial, vandalistic act, and that they have to spend a hell of a lot more time cleaning it off than they did putting it on.

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