Page 1812 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 4 May 2005

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of the individual business owner’s pocket. It is an unscheduled and unexpected expenditure for many businesses that has to be met to maintain an acceptable appearance.

Complaints are received pretty much every week from property owners, and sometimes residents, in Canberra who are fed up with the appalling occurrence of this damage. I find there is a particular level of complaint in the Weston area, especially in relation to graffiti on signage on frontages bordering Hindmarsh Drive, but I have also received complaints from other parts of Canberra. I will quote from a letter recently sent to me by a resident. It says:

Having recently escorted some overseas and interstate visitors around Canberra, without any prompt they initiated a comment about the amount of graffiti on buildings and fences that was visible in the Nation’s capital.

If Canberra, specifically Civic is not cleaned up quickly, there will be great losses for the Territory through tourism, business and general appeal of ACT residents. A more attractive public area will draw more numbers.

A cleaner and safer city will provide a more inviting environment for tourists to visit.

I have lived in larger centres than Canberra, but it is a feature of the landscape in this city that it has a very high level of graffiti. That is a matter of concern to many ratepayers in our city. I think it behoves governments to make a greater effort to improve the situation. Solutions have been advanced by members on this side of the Assembly.

I take some encouragement from what Mr Gentleman mentioned in relation to intensification in monitoring of the city. Hopefully that will ensure that more people who are involved in the some 15,000 acts of graffiti vandalism that I am advised are reported each year in the ACT are apprehended. With only 20 per year being dealt with, it is clear to me that greater vigilance is required, with potentially tougher penalties, if that is what is needed to divert people from this activity.

I reject the suggestion that came from the Greens that this is some form of creative expression. People have an obligation to live within the rules of our society, and vandalising the property of others is simply unacceptable. I have much pleasure in supporting Mr Pratt’s motion and would encourage members to give serious regard to this issue which impacts on the overall appearance of our city.

MR PRATT (Brindabella) (5.30), in reply: Much has been made of the New York “broken windows” program. I do not intend to go into that in detail but would stress again that, by taking a vigilant approach to petty crime and working from the ground up, the New York police and the public services in that city indeed reduced crime significantly.

The figure of somewhere in the region of 85,000 robberies per year was reduced to 50,000 per year or, as Mr Stefaniak said, there was about a 40 per cent break. So you see, when you are vigilant and focus on those minor issues, there is a win-win and a moving up effect. New York, which was previously a very dangerous city, benefited greatly from the “broken windows” campaign approach to petty crime, including vandalism.

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