What’s the answer to graffiti?
Well, don’t ask me, because I’m in the other camp.
That’s the camp that’s also got all the people who think we’re wasting our time – and a stack of our taxes – fighting drugs.
And let me remind you that not a single one of us is saying we like drugs or graffiti.
No, we hate both, but as realists we have accepted that it is impossible to completely wipe away either activity.
But let’s leave drugs to one side and have a look at a specific episode of graffiti which has just arisen.
And not just a specific episode, but a specific approach to graffiti, which involves giving these so called artists somewhere legal to practise their “art”.
Liverpool Councillor Peter Harle, who has been a strong advocate against graffiti as well as legal graffiti, has just received a strongly worded email from a Casula resident, with attached pictures of the eyesore created by these spray can practitioners at the railway line entrance to Casula Powerhouse, which of course doubles as the area’s art gallery. Indeed it is promoted by Liverpool Council as “South West Sydney’s premier art gallery”.
I have published just a couple of the attached pictures here, and Cr Peter Harle has actually just emailed me some more, but just two are sufficient to tell this sorry story.
“To say that this is disgraceful is an understatement,” wrote the residents.
“As a resident I am ashamed to take my children there.
“Now look at the damage to the railway and council property in the other pictures. Liverpool Council is encouraging the graffiti to be sprayed on the railway station which the ticket purchasing passengers must pay for. How can this be justified?”
To his credit, Cr Harle responded to the residents involved and also released his comments to the media.
“As you know, several past and present councillors have attempted to solve this issue over the past six years with little progress,” he wrote.
“That is despite overwhelming evidence from metropolitan and country councils successfully banning legal graffiti walls and significantly reducing the incidence of graffiti in their areas,” Cr Harle said.
“Over the past six years I have raised several Notice Of Motions to ban the [Casula Powerhouse] tanks as legal graffiti walls, but each time council procrastinates on the issue and asks for further reports while the saga continues, as it is at present.
“I am happy to raise the issue once again, but it needs the intestinal fortitude and support of fellow councillors, including the Mayor, to end this fiasco once and for all, despite a vocal self-interest minority that manages to influence councillors and prevent the obvious solution.”
The obvious solution he is talking about is canning the legal graffiti programs, which simply encourage illegal and unsupervised graffiti.
Cr Harle is right and hopefully he will get enough support to finally win on this issue.
But even if he does, it won’t be the death of graffiti.
Nothing will be.
Graffiti is a world-wide scourge, as anyone who travels overseas will tell you.
I saw graffiti in ancient villages in Greece for God’s sake.
I think there should be deterrent strong penalties for those convicted of defacing public or private property, and the police given the powers they need to apprehend those responsible.
But other than that, just like drugs, graffiti will be around for however long as we have rebellious, misguided youths.
Such is life.