Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 4 Hansard (29 March) . . Page.. 1206..
MR CORBELL (continuing):
community believes should be appropriately covered by the permanent legislation for protection.
Mr Speaker, the difficulty with the government's provision as outlined in clause 6 of the bill is that it differentiates between eucalypts and any other tree species. The government's provisions provide that a eucalypt will only be protected where it has a circumference of 2.5 metres or more one metre above natural ground level, or, where the eucalypt has multiple trunks where the total circumferences of all of the trunks one metre above natural ground level is 2.5 metres or more, along with an average of the trunks circumferences one metre above natural ground level of 0.75 metres.
Mr Speaker, that is an inadequate provision in our view because it does not take account of the fact that there would be many other eucalypts that would meet the provisions of subclause 6 (1) (c) of the government's bill-that is, 12 metres or more high, 1.5 metres in circumference, or a canopy of 12 metres-but because they are eucalypts they are not covered by that provision.
My amendment provides that, whether or not they are eucalypts, if they meet the provisions of my amendment, that is 12 metres or more high, 1.5 metres in circumference, or, with multiple trunks, they have a combined circumference of 1.5 metres or a canopy of 12 metres or more, they will be given protection.
Mr Speaker, it is important to note that this is an interim provision in order to provide the best possible protection to the most appropriate cross-section of tree species and of tree types in the territory until more detailed work is done on protecting those trees and identifying what is a significant tree for the permanent register. The government has indicated in briefings to me and to other members that they intend this interim legislation to only have effect for a period of three to four months. I do not think that in those circumstances it is inappropriate to broaden the provisions for recognition and registration of a significant tree in this interim scheme.
MR SMYTH (Minister for Urban Services, Minister for Business, Tourism and the Arts and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (5.17): Mr Speaker, the government will oppose this amendment because we do not believe it is necessary at this time. The purpose of interim tree protection is to protect those trees most at risk, not all trees. The importance of the tree protection legislation and the significant tree register should not be overstated. They are part of a suite of things that the government will do to protect trees, and you have to view it in the overall context of the tree protection measures, tree management policy, and all the other things that we have in place. There are also planning issues linked to the space available for trees rather than the trees themselves and how they are managed, and it is a shame that ACTCode 2 is not out because it does give greater verge width, which of course is beneficial for trees.
Other areas that we have to work on are things like public education and awareness, quality control for tree surgeons, planting better stock, and correcting some of the mistakes made in the past when inappropriate native species were introduced. Often inappropriate species were introduced through the then federal government's free issue of trees and shrubs. We believe that the current legislation strikes a good balance between the community's desire to protect the large and important trees and its abhorrence of unnecessary government interference in their backyards.