Page 2415 - Week 08 - Thursday, 6 August 2015

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In closing, I would like to thank all members of the Assembly who participated, whether as a minister or a shadow minister, and thank directorate officials for their preparation and participation. This is an important part of the transparency of our government. Thank you.

DR BOURKE (Ginninderra) (10.51): Illegal graffiti currently costs the ACT government around $500,000 a year. It remains a popular form of vandalism and is frequently seen in highly visible public spaces. Maintenance crews regularly undertake the removal and cleaning of graffiti defacing our city. However, this service does not extend to private fences facing public spaces, as the cost of maintaining a fence is the responsibility of the private owner.

Illegal graffiti tagging a property owner’s fence without their permission is common. It serves little purpose other than to deface property. Fences facing open space are easy to reach, are highly visible and have limited natural surveillance, and tagging graffiti can be applied quickly.

Graffiti vandalism is not just an issue that affects the property targeted. It impacts on the whole community. It gives the impression that the property and public space are not properly cared for or respected. People worry that unsightly graffiti lends their community an air of decline and is a sign of unlawfulness. These are the concerns that my constituents in Belconnen have raised with me.

Legal graffiti sites are available in Canberra as a strategy to deflect graffiti away from illegal sites, and there are plans for more. They are available for graffiti art, and also tagging. However, large areas of tagging are painted out to allow for the ongoing use of art. Under the legal graffiti practice site guidelines, these sites are located where there are a limited number of private residences with a direct line of sight. Property owners are consulted, and the site will not proceed if objections are raised and persist after discussions. High visibility is a major attraction of tagging sites. Given that legal graffiti sites limit tagging and visibility, private property owners are unlikely to see a marked drop in the levels of property damage.

The committee recommends, at recommendation 146, that the ACT government should consider additional strategies to remove graffiti on private property. I note that the budget is providing for a review of the government’s graffiti management strategy, and I call upon the review to consider this recommendation. In closing, I thank my fellow committee members and the secretariat for all their hard work in preparing this report.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (10.54), in reply: To close, Madam Speaker, again I thank my colleagues for their words. Obviously I failed as the chair of the estimates committee if Ms Lawder actually had an enjoyable moment there. We will have to rectify that; one must take the estimates process seriously. Maybe there are mitigating circumstances in that it was at the expense of the Chief Minister, so I will let her off this time. Sometimes committees do not work—we have all been there—and sometimes committees work very well. I am grateful to Ms Fitzharris, Dr Bourke and Ms Lawder for making this work.

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