Words By: Zac Duggan
Image Credit: Perth Graffiti Facebook Page
The only thing more common in Perth than New Balance shoes is graffiti. But compared to places like Belgium and New York City, Perth’s walls and train carriages are squeaky clean.
Under new laws proposed by the Barnett government, police will be able to seize electronic devices used to “record, store or transmit” graffiti photos taken by offenders.
The new Graffiti Vandalism Enforcement Act will make graffiti an offence in itself, no longer falling under property damage laws. Offenders will face significantly bigger fines, make jail terms more likely for serial offenders and may even force offenders too clean up walls if convicted.
The new laws aim to combat graffiti, following an estimated $8 million clean-up bill last year for Western Power, the Public Transport Authority, Main Roads, the Department of Education and nine Perth councils.
WA Police Minister, Lisa Harvey said that the laws are designed to “combat graffiti vandalism. We endeavour to clean it up in 24 hours and now we are looking to remove the ability to broadcast it”.
WA already have tough anti-graffiti laws, 142 people were recently charged with a variety of offences in the annual police inititative Operation Eraser which uses intelligence to target known graffiti writers.
Graffiti culture has boomed since the advent of social media sites like Instagram, Facebook and Youtube have enabled artists to share their work online and gain cult followings for their unique brands of street art.
On the other hand, the photos used to gain notoriety for artists have made it easy to prosecute offenders when caught in the act.
There has to be a large distinction between the “tags” one might see scribbled on bus seats and the graffiti crafted over many years by artists who are not the stereotyped “dole bludgers” but can often be your lawyer, your tradie, your chef, or even your doctor.
Public2015 was a highly successful street art festival ran in April in Perth by formWA and saw artists from around the world blow the minds of city commuters with their insane talent in wielding spray cans.
Many Australian artists have made careers out of street art, adding magnificent, colourful works of art to bland brick walls, where is the line between graffiti and street art and how far should we go in preventing one and financing the other?