By KIERAN FINNANE
The graffiti removal by-law, requiring property-owners to remove graffiti or else face a possible fine, will stay. In a five to three show of hands at last Monday’s Town Council committee meeting his colleagues rejected Alderman Eli Melky’s motion to remove the by-law.
For his pains Ald Melky earned something of a dressing-down from CEO Rex Mooney, a rare intervention by the executive in aldermanic debate in my time of observing council meetings.
Mr Mooney objected strongly to Ald Melky’s challenge that the by-law offended against the Local Government Act. As the Solicitor-General of the Northern Territory had approved the by-laws, this could not possibly be so, said Mr Mooney and Ald Melky’s arguments were sending “the wrong message” to the community.
He asked that Ald Melky correct the public record by withdrawing this reasoning behind his motion.
This did not happen. Ald Melky stood his ground, supported by Alds Samih Habib Bitar and Murray Stewart, but it was losing ground.
Apart from his somewhat confused attempt to say that he was not challenging the legality of the by-law – to the intense irritation of Ald John Rawnsley – Ald Melky was also caught out on on the financial implications. He wants to see graffiti removed but does not want individual ratepayers to be responsible. That would leave it to council, in other words to the collective ratepayers. One way or another, ratepayers pay.
Officers estimated that the cost to remove graffiti from just the surfaces facing Alice Springs’ main and arterial roads would come to an annual total of $276,868.80 (including the one-off purchase of a vehicle for $87,500). Last financial year $71,797.16 was spent on graffiti removal.
The impost on the individual ratepayer of the by-law is also softened in a number of ways: council will provide a graffiti removal kit or $30 paint voucher. Council will also remove the graffiti if a property-owner has been hit more than once in the year.
Meanwhile, Ald Habib Bitar was successful on Monday in getting support for a motion that council write a letter the Minister for Police and Police Commissioner asking that Alice Springs be properly resourced to ensure adequate response times by police to calls for assistance. This follows controversy over the delayed response by police to a recent 000 call from the Aurora Hotel when a film crew took shelter there from two female assailants, who then turned on hotel staff.
PHOTO: Graffiti aren’t new to town – this one was on a wall in the industrial area in 2009.
By KIERAN FINNANE