By Callum Florance
Pepper Grinder is a Peppercorn series providing news and reporting relevant to ANU law students and beyond via Peppercorn’s Facebook page and biannual magazine.
On 22 November 2017, the ACT Government along with LGBTIQ+ allies and volunteers painted the roundabout in the heart of Braddon, affectionately called the ‘Rainbow Roundabout’. This was intended to meet the ACT Government’s objectives of social inclusion and urban renewal. The Rainbow Roundabout was also ‘a colourful tribute to the same-sex marriage postal survey and the ACT’s thumping “Yes” vote’. ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr has even called it ‘a cherished landmark’ in the past.
So what happens when a symbol of inclusion and renewal is defaced? Should it be up to the ACT Government to actively maintain the roundabout? Or is a call for volunteers needed? For this edition of Pepper Grinder, we report on the defacement of Braddon’s Rainbow Roundabout.
For months now, Braddon’s Rainbow Roundabout has been defaced with tyre marks. I have previously seen repair vans park up onto the roundabout to fix its rainbow light pole, which a spokesperson from the City Renewal Authority noted ‘was installed as part of the 2018 Enlighten Festival’.
It also looks like there are plenty of bike tyre marks. This has happened previously at the start of 2023, with Summernats visitors defacing the Rainbow Roundabout with e-scooters.
It is not clear whether the Rainbow Roundabout gets any regular maintenance or cleaning, as the paint has faded considerably. A spokesperson from the City Renewal Authority explained that the Rainbow Roundabout ‘is maintained as needed’.
Volunteers and Allies
Volunteers and allies were a core part of the creation of the Rainbow Roundabout in 2017. Surely the ACT Government could create or support a volunteer committee to help maintain the roundabout, or at the very least give it a clean when it gets defaced. There is something quite wrong about defacing a landmark, especially something that has a special meaning for a particular group in your society like the Rainbow Roundabout has for the LGBTIQ+ community.
A Canberra Landmark?
Braddon’s Rainbow Roundabout was named international roundabout of the year in 2020. It was a point of pride for the Yes!Fest in 2018, which was a big block-party celebration on Lonsdale Street to mark the one-year anniversary of the successful “Yes” campaign and to recreate the spontaneous celebrations that happened on the winning night. (Side note – bring back Yes!Fest).
In response to this, we put it to the ACT Government whether it will recognise the Rainbow Roundabout’s special status as a Canberra landmark. A spokesperson from the City Renewal Authority stated that ‘The ACT Government recognises that Braddon’s Rainbow Roundabout is a place loved by many people’ and that there are currently ‘plans underway to refresh the roundabout so it endures as a symbol of Canberra’s commitment to inclusion and diversity’.
We wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment of the ACT Government. A good first step would be to clean up the tyre marks.