Page 2783 - Week 09 - Thursday, 27 September 2007

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MR SPEAKER: Order, Mr Pratt!

MR HARGREAVES: We have, as I said, a program for its removal and we do look at it in terms of the sensitivity of each place. Our inspectors look at it, and we use a range of methods to clean the stuff off. We also collect the tags and talk to the police about trying to identify those perpetrators.

Mr Pratt: Yeah, sure!

MR HARGREAVES: When eventually they are caught, they are charged with multiple offences. What is not in the graffiti strategy is an imperative upon the general public or even, I suggest, members of this place, to take it upon themselves to clean off public art that they consider to be offensive. If somebody has paid for public art in a public place through due process, I think they have a right to have it left alone, and perhaps even admired by fellow citizens who may come upon it.

Mr Pratt: It’s a pity you don’t register it.

MR HARGREAVES: What is not in our policy, and will never find its way into our policy—and I am just wondering whether the community are aware of what is not in our policy—is for us to encourage people to remove public art because they do not know the difference between offensive graffiti and the depiction of public artworks. I just wonder if those opposite do not have enough to do with their time but to scurry around the suburbs trying to find yet another piece of graffiti. I really worry about that. Instead of encouraging copycat activity by people, by putting this sort of thing into the public domain, they could be encouraging the anti-graffiti strategy, and joining with the government to try and attack this particular scourge. They could recognise that there is nothing unique about Canberra. People here have travelled extensively, as members; they would have seen it. Mr Mulcahy would have seen it all over half the cities in the United States. Yet we do have a strategy to fix it.

These guys have nothing better to do than to wander around the place. I am surprised that the question was from Mr Seselja, who I had credited with having more sense. Obviously, he has been very badly affected by his colleague to his immediate right. All I can say is that, as a lawyer, Mr Seselja ought really to take the lead here and discourage the defacing and vandalism of public artworks. That is why I am in grave fear for my security budget within Territory and Municipal Services. I might have to stick the policemen who normally sit at the bottom of Mr Pratt’s driveway in front of one of our public artworks, in case he either daubs it or removes every speck of paint on it. I do not see any action on the part of Mr Pratt to ring up Canberra Connect. In fact, I might do this: I might ring up Canberra Connect and ask them how many phone calls they have received from Mr Pratt reporting graffiti that was offensive to him. I bet you I can count all of those calls on my thumb.


MR SMYTH: My question is to the Minister for Territory and Municipal Services. Minister, your department is responsible for disposing of material in the schools

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