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Stanhope staffer saved from the gallows

Thumper 18 April 2005 73

[Originally posted 14-APR-05]

It appears that a Stanhope staffer has been picked up by the AFP for spraying anti Howard graffiti on a house somewhere. Interestingly Stanhope, according to himself, made the brave and compassionate decision not to sack this young fool.

Anyone else heard about this or have something online?

[ED – Gary Humphries has put out a media release on this. ABC coverage is also up now, Aidan Bruford is the name of the alleged culprit, the March 2005 Government Contacts Handbook has him in a very prominent position (same page as the Chief Minister) on page 5. Also ABC Online has a further piece of fallout with the Federal Environment Minister (of all people) wading in. Furthermore the local Libs have woken up late and finally put out media releases from Brendan Smyth, and Steve Pratt]

[Another Day, Another Update: Snark site Spin Starts Here have awarded Aidan their Wanker of the Week Prize, They’ve also linked to an Age article with a quote demonstrating a fair degree of insanity on the part of Our Brave Leader:

Mr Stanhope said he decided not to sack Mr Bruford partly because many people in positions of importance, including politicians and judges, “engage in behaviour that is wrong and criminal” and continue to sit on benches and in cabinet rooms.

You have to admire the honesty, he’s saying “we’re a bunch of evil crooks so why single out young Aidan”, right?]

And finally, we can show you what the fuss is all about:

Aidan Bruford\\\'s alleged handiwork

[Note: The Chief Minister finally did accept Aidan’s resignation, as reported here.]

[ED – Back to Thumper]

Stanhope gets angry with Darwin media over staffer

No link yet but it would appear the Comrade got rather testy in Darwin when asked by a journalist about the graffiti issue. It would seem the said journo suggested that his staffer was a dickhead, to which the Comrade allegedly replied that the journo was a dickhead and then it was apparently nearly on for young an old with quite a few choice words and the Comrade threatening, as usual, legal action.

This just gets better and better. I think I’ll Google some Darwin rags…

[Ed – The Australian has got the Darwin story in the Strewth column:

UP north they are well past the wet season, but Darwin is still witnessing some troppo behaviour.

The environment ministers conference is on and yesterday ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope became hot under the collar when grilled about Aidan Bruford, his 24-year-old environment adviser, who was busted last week for spray-painting anti-Howard graffiti on a Canberra shopping centre. As the Chief Minister is refusing to sack the lad, local Channel 9 reporter Camden Smith, who has a reputation for provocative questions, asked Stanhope: “Why should we pay for him to be a dickhead?” Things became really heated when Smith “slapped” Stanhope on the back. The Chief Minister fired back: “Don’t ever lay your hands on me, mate.” Yes, minister.

They also have devoted editorial space:

Canberra graffiti paints out career

JON Stanhope is the sort of bloke every irresponsible young man would want for a dad. Forgiving to a fault, he believes in improving behaviour rather than punishing outright stupidity. But there is a limit to the tolerance extended to any adult who acts idiotically. And in the ACT, Aidan Bruford, a member of the Chief Minister’s staff, has exceeded it. Mr Bruford was caught by police spray-painting a shopping centre with a representation of the Prime Minister menacing a dove. Mr Stanhope says graffiti is “inherently obnoxious” but it seems this judgment does not apply when the offender has protectors in the highest places who approve of the drawing’s political sentiment. The men who incurred a $150,000 clean-up bill and nine months’ periodic detention for defacing the Sydney Opera House with an anti-war message must wish the courts were as understanding.

Mr Bruford has offered to resign but his boss evidently thinks they can brazen it out. They can’t, at least not without the Chief Minister looking like a man who places his mates above political principle. If Mr Bruford is convicted, he could face six months in the slammer, or a $1000 fine. Nor would a conviction be much good for the career prospects of the young lawyer. But spray-painting a shopping centre, and leaving it to the long-suffering retailers to remove the unwanted message, is also a wretched reference. Just as abandoned cars and broken windows in a community generate more urban decay, graffiti breeds graffiti, something Mr Bruford, who is employed as a political adviser on the environment, should know.

This foolish act can only encourage others to follow, especially if Mr Bruford’s career stays on track. Mr Bruford should pack up his desk and go. Staffers are no use in a political office once their behaviour becomes news. Mr Stanhope says Mr Bruford is a young man with great potential. Perhaps not in politics, at least while he sees himself as commentator with a spray can.

Google news has more]

[And the Canberra Times have finally turned their website over and produced highly illuminating coverage here and here.]

[The CT’s Pryor casts aspersions on the maturity of Mr. Stanhope’s advisers.]

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73 Responses to Stanhope staffer saved from the gallows
STONE 3:02 pm 26 Apr 05


trebelit 2:29 pm 18 Apr 05

I’m not a big fan of Howard, but graffiti? Sucks. I don’t care how talented the artists how, or how pissed off and disconnected, graffiti is vandalism, plain and simple. And more than that, it’s a form of vandalism that places an immense and totally unreasonable burden on the small shopkeepers and urban house owners who inevitably have to pay for the clean-up. In what way is that enhancing equality and justice for all?

So, this young man doesn’t like Howard, eh? Thinks the world is unfair? Wants peace and love and the singing of kumbayah? Well, how about getting out there and doing something constructive to change the world, like joining Red Cross or signing up for Australian Volunteers Abroad? How about acting like an intelligent adult, worthy of respect and serious consideration by those whose views might actually be open to change (as opposed to the already-converted, who are the only ones likely to find that picture funny)? How about just doing something, anything, that amounts to a little more than bitching and snipping from the sidelines?

Positive, practical actions is what counts, not symbols and tokenism and petulant tantrums. When the radical left finally gets this, they may get back into power.

In the meantime, Bruford needs to do the right thing and resign. Insist on it, if necessary. In doing so, he can prove he has more moral fortitude and respect for the laws he is meant to be making and upholding than does his boss. Yeah, that’s a harsh penalty for a comparatively minor crime, but tough shit, mate. If you accept the perks of a political staffer, you’ve gotta cop the flack. Get. Out. Now.

bonfire 10:22 am 18 Apr 05

On teh Insiders yesterday they had an interesting snippet between Stannohope and a journo in Darwin.

Ostensibly he was being questioned over Prufrock.

Not only is it a local issue, but a national issue. Lets sell Canberra some more.

johnboy 9:40 pm 17 Apr 05

Thanks for clearing that up LG 😉

LurkerGal 9:39 pm 17 Apr 05


johnboy 9:06 pm 17 Apr 05

If it’s any consolation David, the whole affair makes me feel nauseous too.

David Heidelberg 4:43 pm 17 Apr 05

Jeez JB, are you menstrating?

You’ve said far worse things about me. I’ve always defended, and supported this site. What’s your problem?

Mr Prufrock 6:52 pm 16 Apr 05

Where’s my bloody ladder?

bonfire 4:38 pm 16 Apr 05

i think stanhope sees himself as a father figure for prufrock.

smart uni student, student politics, law degree, working in politicians office as a senior adviser at 23, left wing softhead views.

he just wants to stand up for his kid.

i can hardly wait for the angry man act to start.

regrdless of prufrocks politics, he has been busted committing a criminal act.

it seems he was a serial stenciller.

its not a serious offence, but given his position, its just nuts.

stanhope should sack him. he should be charged.

then while he reflects upon his life he can measure it out in coffee spoons.

johnboy 1:40 pm 16 Apr 05

David I’m obsessed with having transparent and accountable government.

In my personal view all responsible citizens should be.

Mr. Stanhope makes much of the westminster system which shields government’s from transparency in return for a heavy price of responsibility. He then also chooses to ignore his reponsibilities.

A man from My Stanhope’s office went down to Ainslie Shops and vanadlised private citizens property. That man still works for Mr. Stanhope. It’s very, very simple.

But given the things you’ve said about me over the years david, why on earth should I care what you think?

David_Heidelberg 1:25 pm 16 Apr 05

JB – I’m finding your moral indignation utterly nausiating.

I thought that I had a monopoly on such behaviour.

You are building a strawman out of the chief minister. You say.

“Instead the Chief Minister has said, in effect, that he condones crimes against members of the public if they’re in pursuit of a higher cause with which he approves.”

That’s bullshit JB, and you know it. If it was the case, he would be stating that all charges should be dropped. Is he doing this?

I am no fan of Stanhope, however, you seem to be utterly obsessed with him.

johnboy 9:31 am 16 Apr 05

a) we are not at war. We have personnel on active deployment, as we have had, pretty much non stop, for the last 60 years. This time the deployment is more controversial than most.

b) even if we were at war it would still not justify politically motivated political vandalism.

this site is made up of hundreds of indiviuals who agree on almost nothing, congratulations, you’re now one of them.

we are not tinkerbell, we can be outraged about many different things if need be.

these days to be honest i view both major parties as sides of the same coin, a professional political class setting themselves up as a new aristocracy. That Aidan still maintains his taxpayer funded position of privilege and influence is part of the SAME problem as the mendacities of the Howard Government.

this site is devoted to ACT issues, so here we’re looking at Stanhope, *we* give plenty of stick to the Liberals as well you might have noticed.

And it’s well past time the public woke up to the inherently corrupt nature of both our political parties. Parties we entrust our law-making and public funds to.

canberragirl 9:13 am 16 Apr 05

I never said he shouldn’t pay the penalties under the law. In fact you will notice if you read properly that I said that he should. Those penalities don’t include public vilification – (some of the above posts contain accustions of holding views and/or commiting acts for which there is no evidence at all), a lifetime of penuary, being lynched by strung out junkies, or any of the other measures being advocated in some posts.
And I never said that someone whose political views differed from my own should escape punishment. As long as your politics don’t involve swastikas outside synagogues or threatening anyone with violence (some of the posts on this site would in my limited understanding attract harsher penalties if spray painted on a wall because they appear to advocate violence, albeit in what I assume is a crude attempt at satire), I’d apply the same principles to you as to the staffer – ie pay what the courts impose and be done with it.
I never used the term “moral necessity”. Don’t put words in my mouth.
I said “there is a war on” in relation to the sentence “get a sense of proportion” (not to argue “moral necessity” – ie, whether you support the war or not, does this really justify the amount of invective when Australian citizens – many of them graduates of Canberra’s ADFA – are in a war zone? Aren’t there higher priorities?
I do like the way you read one sentence and use it to attribute views that the writer never expressed, and slap around the labels so easily.
To go by their contributions on this site, some readers should not take up graffiti – their fondness for obsenity and coarseness suggests that they would be unable to come up with anything more aethetic than a crude picture of a penis and a slogan whose language would be unsuitable for my young child to read. That’s not a comment on anyone’s politics or opinions – it’s a comment on their limited ability for expression. Nonetheless, should their outrage force them to attempt such measures, I will be happy for them only to receive the punishment due to them under the law. Happy now?

johnboy 7:56 am 16 Apr 05

Canberragirl, under the laws of australia no amount of moral necessity gives you the right to vandalise other people’s property.

I don’t care how left-wing, or right-wing he is. he’s a public vandal, and worse he’s a politically motivated public vandal now acting with the approval of the Chief Minister.

Stanhope should have accpeted his resignation on friday and then this all would have gone away.

Instead the Chief Minister has said, in effect, that he condones crimes against members of the public if they’re in pursuit of a higher cause with which he approves.

Now step away from your own ideology for a second and imagine another chief minister and their staff, ones you don’t see eye to eye with. Do you want this standard of behaviour to remain?

If Aidan had approached the owner of the shop and said “I have this witty stencil, would you like me to paint it on you wall, and if the owner had said “my that is a witty stencil, go right ahead” then no-one would have batted an eye-lid.

Everyone’s got moral necessities, they’re going to differ, if we start imposing our own views on others, in spite of the law, we’re not going to have much of a society left once the smoke settles.

Here at this site we say to people “come along and share your views” that’s our choice.

It shouldn’t be forced on everyone else, no matter how strongly you believe in the justice of your cause.

Gingermick 7:43 am 16 Apr 05

Ah canberragirl! “moral necessity”; “there is a war on”; “quirky, witty stencils…to be interesting and thought provoking” and “the media’s very skewed sense of priorities”. Great stuff. Long may the revolution rage!
Can anyone please loan Mr Prufrock a ladder?

canberragirl 9:46 pm 15 Apr 05

Get a grip. Or at least a sense of proportion. There is a war on. But apparently a stencilled graffti the size of an A4 page is more of a threat.
The stencilled graffiti that has taken off all over Sydney and Canberra is a lot less obtrusive than other graffiti and I have never seen any of it despoiling a beauty site. It’s generally to be found livening up ugly and depressing places like alleys or wherever. (and the back of Ainslie shops? – you’d have to try pretty hard to make that look worse.) I’ve never engaged in graffiti (except to deface an anti-semetic slogan while travelling in the mid east, for which I claim moral necessity) and I agree that a some kinds of graffiti makes an area look rundown and depressed. Obscene language, crude depictions of genetalia, stuff that’s just scrawl aimed at showing the perpetrator was there – sad. But I find quirky, witty stencils that liven up otherwise dull, ugly and empty space – whether or not the graffiti are in support of my own politics – to be interesting and thought provoking. Regulating them wouldn’t work – half their interest is that they appear in unexpected places.
I accept that you cannot in law distinguish between “good” and “bad” graffiti (except insofar as threatening or racially driven messages are concerned – these attract greater penalties and so they should) so it’s illegal – and if you break the law you can’t complain about any court imposed penalities. And in fact, Stanhope’s staffer isn’t making any excuses or claiming any privileges for being a “vegan or an artist”, in the words of an earlier post.
To those carolling on about how there are spaces for legal graffiti in Canberra – yes, that’s true and legal is better, etc. But in terms of aesthetics – a lot of the legal stuff is bloody ugly and a lot more in your face than the quite discrete (but illegal) stencilled stuff. I imagine that the people who hate the illegal stuff hate the legal stuff just as much and probably don’t know or care which is which – possibly they hate the legal stuff more because it is generally larger and more intrusive. Not a reason to abolish the legal spaces or a reason for letting the staffer off the hook, just an observation.
The staffer works for Stanhope so he can hardly be the hardline greenie/loonie leftist that is being made out in some posts. Presumably as environment advisor he was on board with the gungalin bypass, for eg, and the kangaroo cull? That puts him to the right of me, and I’m not che guevara. He doesn’t like the war, which hardly makes him far left. And given the media’s very skewed set of priorities – as seen over the last few days – it’s not surprising that people are resorting to displaying their feelings about that through illegal means.

ferpete'ssake 9:25 pm 15 Apr 05

My god, what a shitfight over nothing!

So some bloke decides not to fire an employee who committed a minor offence… why is there such a brouhaha over it? You get pinged by a speed camera do you expect to lose -your- job?

Move along, nothing to see here…

johnboy 7:49 pm 15 Apr 05

Santa there’s no right to illegal protest. If you choose to break the law in your crusade you choose to bear the consequences.

But an advisor should not be running their own campaigns.

which does make you wonder if the boss didn’t know what he was up to.

amortiser 3:39 pm 15 Apr 05

So Bruford looks like he has splashed his “art” all over town. The Ainslie case is not the only example of this piece of graffiti.

It may well turn out that he is a serial offender. He was caught with the stensil as well as the spraycan.

Any “sorrow” for his actions is only a result of him being caught in the act. It wasn’t an isolated instance but actually part of a pattern of established criminal behaviour. He did it clandestinely in the early hours of the morning obviously knowing what he was doing was wrong and he was caught in the act.

What more does he need to do to show that shuch behaviour is not worthy of being on the staff of the Chief Law Officer of the ACT?

Mr Evil 2:49 pm 15 Apr 05

I’m just anti-every-bloody-thing! If graffitti is classed as art by some, does that mean that all those burnout marks on Canberra’s roads are art too?

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