Page 1811 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 4 May 2005

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In addition to the programs already discussed, the government is currently working on the Canberra central project implementation team, to deliver capital works programs in the 2005-06 financial year, which will improve the city’s look and feel. As mentioned earlier by the planning minister, $700,000 is being provided to improve signage throughout Civic, including the implementation of new street blades and various forms of information signage to complement the existing beacons, arcade directories and information pillars.

The year 2005-06 will also see the delivery of the $6 million first stage of the Childers Street redevelopment, which will be a benchmark project in a realisation of the City West master plan. The government is active in positively tackling the range of issues that impact on the look of our city through a range of constructive measures. I commend Mr Hargreaves’s amendments to the motion.

MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (5.25): I appreciate the opportunity to make a few comments on the issue of vandalism and graffiti. Despite the government’s promises to reduce the instance of graffiti vandalism across the ACT, the problem is still visibly out of control. Indeed, it ranks as one of the issues on which I receive the highest level of complaints. I think it is probably exceeded only by planning and possibly health.

Mr Hargreaves: That’s rubbish!

MR MULCAHY: The minister refers to this as rubbish, but I would encourage him to listen to the sorts of complaints that come from constituents. I receive regular communications—phone calls, emails and letters—on this issue. Graffiti is a form of vandalism. As we know, graffiti usually carries a negative message, and sometimes it is the trademark of a particular group of people and, in other cities, gangs.

I am not sure of the nature of some of those repetitive symbols and signs in this city, but it certainly is a fact that graffiti causes property owners a headache and hits both the public and private purse. Mr Snow described Civic last week as “tired, rundown, plastered in graffiti and untidy with rubbish”. He said there was a lack of pride in civic presentation. I am sure that most members of our community would agree with that view. It is certainly one I support.

He went so far as to describe parts of Civic as being Third World. I am not sure if it is Third World but there is certainly evidence throughout the city centre of a very poorly maintained centre for the nation’s capital. The appearance is largely contributed to by graffiti. The appearance of graffiti in the centre of a city gives an adverse impression to tourists.

I refer to the “broken windows” theory advanced by Wilson and Kelling in 1982, which was that allowing neighbourhoods to become rundown and neglected encourages more criminal behaviour. In an attempt to reduce the graffiti problem, the territory government introduced a graffiti management strategy last year; however, it is quite clear that the problem remains active.

I have many complaints that come through. When private businesses are the target of a graffiti crime there is a hefty cost involved with the removal process, which comes out

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