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Tuesday, 28 April 1987
Page: 2136

Mr MAHER(10.41) —During the past three weeks members on both sides of the House have attended Anzac services. Members who have been here for a little while or people who have been members of parliament are used to the regular routine of services in the various communities, suburbs or towns that they represent. Much to my surprise, this year a service that I have attended for 13 or 14 years run by the Five Dock Returned Services League Club was not held at the war memorial rotunda in Five Dock Park. It was held in the RSL club itself. When I inquired why this was so, I was told that the memorial had been vandalised by some anonymous persons with spray paint and marking pencils. I thought that I would have a look at this rotunda, and I was absolutely surprised and quite horrified by what I saw. There were signs and writing even some 20 feet up on the rotunda. The whole building was totally defaced. No service could have been held there unless the building had been draped with some sort of hessian or something like that.

I immediately discussed this problem with the Mayor of Drummoyne, Alderman Peter Fitzgerald, who works with the Minister for Planning and Environment in New South Wales. He said that he did not know what to do and that the RSL authorities were very concerned about the matter. They had removed the memorial tablets from the rotunda, but apparently the problem is that the paint and the marking pencils are spirit based. If they were water based they would wash off and the damage could be rectified. This is an enormous problem, and there has always been the painting of signs, such as `Lang is right', and all the slogans pertaining to political parties. I am sure that people who have been involved in these issues over a long period will remember people painting on the road, using stencils, things such as `Keep prices down' or `Put value back in the pound'. But that was done with paint and it was a cumbersome process. These new spray cans find their way into the hands of juveniles, and perhaps adults who have juvenile minds, who go around defacing memorials and public facilities all over our nation.

I raise this matter tonight in the hope that the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Environment (Mr Cohen), or even the Minister for Science (Mr Barry Jones), will do something about it, as I feel it is a Federal problem. It is a national problem in that our historic sites, our very heritage, are being defaced and perhaps destroyed for future generations. Whether these spray cans are imported or whether they are made locally, I do not know. I have tried to find out, but I just have not had the time. However, the Mayor of Drummoyne has put to me that surely people who purchase these items can be made to record their name and address in a register. There is a register for a lot of dangerous substances. When fireworks were a problem in New South Wales, the whole matter of the sale and distribution of fireworks was investigated and steps were taken to change the date on which fireworks were exploded, in an endeavour to cut down on injuries and damage to children, who were in danger of losing their eyes or receiving serious burns.

In New South Wales alone, five young boys have been killed while writing on railway carriages. This has occurred only in the last couple of years, when boys leaning out of trains or writing on railway embankments have been hit by trains. This has resulted in five deaths in New South Wales and possibly others in other States. I have raised this matter tonight because I think that we must at least recognise the problem. Perhaps there could be a conference of manufacturers or importers and such people to deal with the question of how a war memorial in a park or, say, an historic cemetery can be protected.

Mr Barry Jones —It is not a phenomenon confined to Australia. It is in America, too.

Mr MAHER —It is a worldwide phenomenon, but how do we protect our great heritage of Aboriginal rock art, the oldest art in the world, and an enormous tourist potential for this nation? What if some madman or mad woman got loose in an historic site and let go with a spray can? I am sure it will be the next thing. It worries me greatly and it certainly has the local government authorities in New South Wales worried. We will have no heritage, natural or man-made, to pass on to future generations unless we do something to protect it now.

I thought I would rise in the adjournment debate on the first occasion after the recess to state what I actually saw and experienced-the defacing of this rotunda built in the 1920s after the First World War, which is quite a gem--

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Leo McLeay) -Order! The honourable member's time has expired.