Graham Gorrel's Friday On My Mind | OPINION, May 19, 2017

EARLIER this month Daryl Maguire MP launched his crusade against vandals especially the increasing number of graffiti morons.

Working with police, Maguire told the column whilst they are still creating specific strategies these will involve increased surveillance, catching culprits and freshly painting out graffiti hits; the latter a method being used with some success by councils, all of which costs money.

Maguire admits the biggest issue is the public's failure to report vandalism quickly, especially suspects, to give police more chances to "actively catch the culprits" and effect arrests.

Then there is the problem for the authorities to effect legislation that can improve monitoring and tracing spray can sales. It's a mammoth task but as Maguire told The DA when he launched the campaign: "These vandals need to be dealt with severely and taught a lesson; these people, of all ages, are destroying people's homes and vandalising public property".

There's no doubt in his 10 years as premier from 1976-86, the late Neville Wran achieved significant change and reform; however, one was not his repeal of sections of the Summary Offences Act, which is now being revealed in problems like vandalism, assaults and public disorder which have run amok.

An example: On Gold Cup day a friend and I decided to walk from the track to the RSL Club. What might have been a pleasant, happy stroll was frequently punctuated by expletive-riddled language from loud-mouthed mainly young people which would have, in the old days of the SOA, led to them being given a ride in a paddy wagon, a date with a crusty magistrate on the Monday following; and, for the worst offenders, possibly a weekend in the cells.

The task confronting Maguire is huge but deserving, not only of our community's support but parliament's. More importantly, as The DA's leading article said, "Ultimately the justice system must be judged by its ability to reform".

That requires the State Government to give judges and magistrates a wide ranging brief to inflict severe penalties (perhaps substantially financial rather than custodial) on the graffiti perpetrators and parents where juveniles are involved. It is, as the newspaper's heading said: "Time to play hardball".

Budget theatre

FAIRFAX columnist Harold Mitchell described the Federal Budget "as theatre rather than economics - but then again, so are most budgets in my experience". Mitchell said the really clever modern-day Budget practitioner indulges in goalpost-moving and we saw an example of that in the lead up to last week's Budget with the redirection of spending according to "good and bad debt".

"The really creative ones can invent an entirely new place to find or sometimes lose money," Mitchell wrote.

After last week's theatre how much more simple would it have been, said one column reader, "to follow the example of New Zealand and simply boot up the GST".

Mark Colvin

GOOD journalists, Rupert Murdoch once said, "must feed the mind and move the heart". That described perfectly the ABC's greatest foreign correspondent, Mark Colvin, who has died. Colvin would have called it "seeking out the truth and bringing it home". People who criticise journalists have no perception of the courage eminent journalists like Colvin possess.