Few could have imagined that one of the problems he’s personally got stuck into in the vexing question of the future of a graffiti mural in Collingwood, painted by an American “street artist” Keith Haring, who died of AIDS in 1990.
The Premier himself could barely contain his excitement at his announcement of a restoration programme that will keep the graffiti in tact. He enthused in a media release this past weekend:
"The late Keith Haring was a pioneering street artist and an icon of his generation," Mr Baillieu said. “Keith Haring was committed to making his artworks available to as wide an audience as possible and was an active campaigner for human rights and social justice issues around the world."
The Premier slammed the years of neglect that had led the graffiti to be weathered away since it was first daubed in 1984.
"The mural was entered into the State Heritage Register in 2004 but no work has been undertaken to protect it despite years of exposure to the elements have taken their toll.
"The Coalition Government will act now to prevent further deterioration and restore this landmark piece of public art so that it can be enjoyed by future generations."
The preservation and protection works will be based on a plan by Melbourne conservation and architecture firm RBA Consultants. The plan recommends urgent preliminary works such as the removal of overhead electrical wiring and parking bollards surrounding the site and the appointment of specialist conservators to undertake cleaning works, specialist retouching and the application of a protective coating to defend against UV damage.
The works have been estimated by sources within the Victorian government – speaking on condition of anonymity – at as much as $1 million by the time the restoration and protection works are complete.
Students at Melbourne’s Greensborough Secondary College have recently been permitted to wear blankets in class-rooms due to the dysfunctional heating system at the school.
There have also been left-wing press reports, as yet unconfirmed, that the Victorian government may miss out on billions of federal taxpayer dollars for road and rail projects as a result of its failure to lodge the correct paperwork to Australia’s “independent infrastructure umpire.”
At the least Melbourne’s graffiti is being protected.