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Stanhope staffer saved from the gallows

By Thumper - 15 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.]

What’s Your opinion?

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73 Responses to
Stanhope staffer saved from the gallows
Anonymous 2:44 pm 14 Apr 05

The artists I know actively discourage younger people not start tagging, because the more tagging there is, the harder their life becomes in terms of police/community harrasment.

They also work tirelessly with youth centres to put a positive/non-destructive focus on these kids aspirations to paint.

People use the tagging thing as an excuse to brand it as an illigitimate art. That’s one of the reasons why they have to paint in dangerous and unhealthy areas.

It’s hard for legit artists to fight a media culture that uses grafitti as a tool to communicate to young people that something is cool or ‘street’.

I’d rather not see young people damage the city or gain criminal records for cool points either.

Nobody gains, and most of these kids drop off in a month or two when they haven’t gained the respect they thought they would win by putting messy tags all over the city.

Believe me the legit artists dislike these kids more than the general community.

After you’ve been hauled into a police station a few times and questioned about what some stupid kid did the night before at his local school, you learn not to like them a great deal.

The police also treat their friends as guilty by association. They hang out with these guys, so they must be criminals too.

All beacuse of their choice of medium.

RandomGit 2:26 pm 14 Apr 05

I’ll make a distinction here that ‘spray artists’ do graffiti on lawful plots of public space with permission (good) and ‘graffiti vandals’ spray paint anywhere they choose on other peopels property (bad).

With that in mind, bonfire misread your support of spray artists as a moral defense of a graffiti vandal and thus the train rolled off the tracks in a battle of artistic ideologies.

On review I think you’ll agree.

Anonymous 1:58 pm 14 Apr 05

In response:

If they are so legit, why dont they build their own walls to vandalise ?

Firstly, it’s art not vandalism. As for building their own walls, that’s like saying sculptors should make their own stone, and oil painters should manufacture their own paints and canvasses. Ignorant really…

All I’m saying is that there’s a double standard when it comes to people who choose spray as their medium. I’m seeing it from you. Oh yeah.

Mr prufrock could come along and add some pro Labor anti liberal message. Everyone will get their grant money then.


Apeing a NY vandal wave of the 70’s aint art.

So apeing what a guy painted 300 years ago is? Isn’t that what the mainstream art community does, it apes the renaissance classics over and over again?

You’re entitled to your opinion, however ignotrant it may be, and like I said, whatever.

Andy warhol once said. “If I decide a soup can is art, it’s art…” I’m not going to waste time arguing the particulars of art with you. I’m not into wasting my time.

Besides all that, the NYC movement you refer to wasn’t just the 70’s, it was the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and still goes on today.

If art dealers from around the world regard it as a new, vibrant art, still fresh after 30 years plus, then they must be wrong and you must be right.

How about a thought on how much these artists contribute to the economy locally?

Each large mural painting costs upwards of $200-300 to produce and literally hundreds of these go up every year.

That’s a lot of money injected into retailers.

ASt least one local person has made over $1,000,000 selling paint to markets overseas and he employs at least a dozen people.

But of course you’re right.

It must be nice to always be correct.

RandomGit 1:48 pm 14 Apr 05

@Jazz, it sucks. A pat on the back to a faithful and ruthless follower of the cause. But since when has ‘right and wrong’ prevailed over ‘us and them’ in politics?

Jazz 1:37 pm 14 Apr 05

I’m curious to know what people think of stanhopes decision to not sack the offender.

bonfire 1:23 pm 14 Apr 05

If they are so legit, why dont they build their own walls to vandalise ?

Mr prufrock could come along and add some pro Labor anti liberal message. Everyone will get their grant money then.

Apeing a NY vandal wave of the 70’s aint art.

Anonymous 12:51 pm 14 Apr 05

That’s exactly the kind of attitude that I’m talking about.

My heart isn’t bleeding for this guy, he’s an idiot.

I’m talking about friends of mine who are continuously chastised and harrassed because their medium of application is a can of aerosol paint.

This guy did his crime and should do his time. That’s simple.

There are better ways to express your political views than spraying Ainslie shops.

This guy was also in a better position to have himself heard than most others, what he did was stupid.

Contrary to your insights, not all grafitti is a crime, but you’re quite content to label the legit artists (of which there are many) with dipsticks like the Stanhope staffer.

If people get assaulted while comitting a crime, then it’s on them, but to suggest that it’s okay for a legit artist to be assaulted while engaging in a legal work of self expression is just idiocy.

If you think it’s an eyesore, then that’s your opinion, whatever. I really don’t give a toss.

Canberra has many legit grafitti artists whose work is regarded around the country and around the world as being of the highest quality.

They regularly travel the world to take part in exhibitions and events and are regarded as true talents.

Here in their home city, they’re incorrectly labelled as criminals by people who’d be happy to see them beaten or placed in stocks.

We’ve seen this today.

If they were part of the ‘mainstream’ arts community, they’d be regarded as darlings of the scene because of their international profiles.

Instead, they have to work in unhealthy areas, at constant risk of assault and harrasment.

The double standards surrounding people who choose spraypaint as a medium of expression go far, far beyond what this case has brought to light.

bonfire 12:24 pm 14 Apr 05

excuse me whil i get a bandage together for your bleeding heart.

these softhead excuses are absolute crap.

a graffiti artist ? he’s a criminal! im glad the junkies assault them, the police arent allowed to!

the whole smug stanhope approach is just amazing.

graffiti is an eyesore. its a crime. if you dont liek someones politics then find away to counter them – but dont use that as an exuse for a crime.

the two are not in any way related.

im advocating public stocks in garema place where miscreants can be publically humiliated.

Anonymous 12:15 pm 14 Apr 05

The double standards are terrible. But I love the way that a relatively small crime like grafitti gets so much negative exposure.

Just once I’d like for the agencies concerned to maybe say a few words about something which really hurts us, like drug related crime.

All local break and enters are drug related. All of them. These grafitti kids have a few spots to paint and even there they get hassled and their art censored.

Some spots where they’re allowed to paint are plain dangerous to health (the sullivans creek catchment area in civic for instance)and are also local shooting galleries for herion users.

More than one assault on an artist has taken place in these spots.

If the Government was serious about eradicating the tags, then they should do something to see that these artists get a even a fraction of the funding that the other arts do.

Thumper 11:35 am 14 Apr 05

It worries me that someone in such a position could do something so stupid and then get away with it.

Pity someone didn’t find him earlier and slap him around a bit. Now that would have made really good headlines….

Ralph 11:24 am 14 Apr 05

Oh don’t get me wrong, I hate Howard as much as the next bloke. Its the double standards that gets up my nose, and Stanhope being all smug about it.

Anonymous Bosch 11:23 am 14 Apr 05

While we’re not talking about lying to send Australians to war the actions were foolish and damaging to property. Something you might expect from someone younger but not someone in a ministerial office – its not a playground – and if we want to encourage better standards of behaviour this guy should be appropriately disciplined.

Santa 11:14 am 14 Apr 05

Are you two sure that your aren’t the two old ladies in the aforementioned coment? Personally, I think every Australian should be hurling abuse at little Johnny, be it sensless graffiti or otherwise

Ralph 10:54 am 14 Apr 05

What double standards. A teenager would have the book thrown at them for the same act.

I want to see this clown at the Ainslie shops scrubbing his handiwork off the wall with a toothbrush.

Chris 10:47 am 14 Apr 05

I’m furious that Stanhope is protecting his staffer (who advises him on Environmental matters – I thought environment was about keeping things green – stupid me!) I know two little old ladies who vainly endeavour to scrub graffiti off the walls at Southlands – as soon as they’ve gone away with their Ajax and buckets another set of graffiti goes up. It’s an eye sore, and we pay for it in our taxes – I’d liketo see Stanhope AND his staffer painting over the mess at the Ainslie shops. Perhaps all future ACT graffiti should bear the message ‘Brought to you courtesy of the Office of the Chief Minister”

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