FOR years business and property owners have struggled to make sense of graffiti scrawled and spray painted across walls, fences and buildings.
Described as pointless, senseless and vindictive, it’s also commonly said that the wider public just misses the whole point of graffiti.
The State Government admits it is also at a loss to explain what drives a person to ‘tag’ or ‘graft’ a wall.
But one thing, Premier Kristina Keneally is sure of is that the public has had enough, making herself crystal clear yesterday in sending a strong message to convicted graffiti offenders.
“In an Australian first, graffiti vandals will pay off their courts fines by cleaning up graffiti, under a new sentencing option – clean up orders,” Premier Keneally said.
“Making vandals do the costly and tedious work of cleaning off graffiti is a way to drive home the message that their behaviour is unacceptable,” she said.
The new laws were unveiled as part of Graffiti Action Day.
Local court magistrates were given powers to order vandals to pay off their fines by cleaning graffiti at a rate of $30 an hour.
In Coffs Harbour alone vandalism costs ratepayers an estimated $150,000 each year, while statewide the clean-up bill tops $100 million.
In getting tough on the issue, the Premier also doubled graffiti prison terms to 12 months, made it illegal for youths to carry spray cans in public, gave police powers to confiscate paint cans, while providing $1 million in grants to clean-up hotspots.