Railway corridor graffiti

23 March 2016
scroll to continue

Mr SPEIRS ( Bright ) ( 15:11 ): Adelaide is criss-crossed by railway and tram corridors which cut through our city into our northern, southern, southeastern and western suburbs. Many people will consider themselves fortunate to live along a transport corridor, as it ensures relatively easy access to public transport and direct routes into the city centre. I am one of thousands of South Australians who have chosen to live alongside a railway line—in my case, the Seaford line—because of the easy access it gives me to a train station and the speed with which I can get into the city—29 minutes from Marino station, to be exact.

I am a huge advocate of public transport and a regular user. However, as members of this house would be aware, living close to the Seaford line is not always a benefit. Members would recall the many months I spent campaigning for the noise of the horns and the electric trains to be reduced and for better operational policies to be implemented with drivers using these horns. The efforts we went to to fix this problem were extreme, with public protests and the infamous but ultimately successful hijacking of the transport department's GOVchat circus.

I have since been told by a senior executive of the transport department that, had it not been for this public pressure exerted on the department, bureaucrats and the minister would have made no changes. Isn't it sad that it takes this level of exhaustive campaigning before the unfeeling bureaucracy and an out-of-touch government will listen. Today, the problem of the train horns is significantly improved, with the government recently relenting to my campaign to have train horns moved to the bottom of trains so that the noise travels along the train track rather than on top of the trains where the noise is projected out into our community. There remain operational issues with regard to the way a few rogue train drivers operate the horns, but I would estimate that the problem is improved by some 80 per cent.

However, today I wish to raise yet another significant problem within the Seaford train corridor, one which I know is repeated in public transport corridors across Adelaide, and that is the problem of graffiti vandalism. Those familiar with the electrified railway corridor would know it has become a Mecca for graffiti vandals who know that their work will last longer than ever before now that the railway corridor is electrified and the transport department's ability to remove graffiti is further hindered.

Graffiti is rarely art. It is a selfish, filthy, offensive scourge which is used by criminals, low-lifes, jerks, dropkicks, ferals, idiots, losers—pick a term—to deface our community. Throughout my electorate, from Hove to Hallett Cove, the railway corridor has become an endless mural of back fences and concrete poles which are covered in graffiti. This turns the railway corridor into an artery of despair; trashed and degraded, it has become a blight on the landscape which pulls the whole of the community down, and is seen by thousands of train users as they pass through it every day.

I write to the Minister for Transport on a regular basis to raise concerns about this matter and to request the repainting of railway infrastructure and private fencing backing onto the corridor. We all know that rapid removal of graffiti is the best way to combat this sort of vandalism and unfortunately the transport department's response is not rapid enough. These graffiti tags—badges of honour for the criminals who inflict them on our community—remain in place for months, as train after train filled with passengers view them.

I note the government has made efforts to paint murals at key points along the line to discourage graffiti but these are also now being destroyed with the mural at Hove Railway Station being trashed and the department being unable to get it fixed, despite multiple pleas from my office. The Seacliff Recreation Centre on Yacca Road backs onto the Seaford line. The centre's dedicated board of management led by Beverly Manns, commissioned a fantastic piece of artwork by well-known local street artists, Ricky Spier and Mark Dopheide, to adorn the entire back wall of the centre and to deter graffiti vandalism which has been an enduring problem at the centre for decades. Tragically, the mural was left intact only for a few weeks before being completely obliterated by horrible black graffiti splattering itself across the mural.

I note that a recent email sent by transport department, chief executive, Michael Deegan, to a constituent of mine that he travelled down the train line earlier in March and observed the graffiti, but noted that it is starting to be dealt with in a different manner, including the planting of more shrubs along the corridor. I hope that Mr Deegan is serious about this as the corridor is an absolute disgrace, a terrible reflection on the transport department and a blight across our transport system. I thank the many residents who have contacted me about this matter for taking pride in their community and I implore the state government to establish a rapid response unit to deal with the graffiti vandalism within the railway corridor. This is a matter of civic pride which must be resourced.

Extracted from Hansard