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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 9 Hansard (18 August) . . Page.. 3890..


MS GALLAGHER: I have not received it. I have gone back through my mail register, right back to January 2003, to see whether I got anything relating to the allegations that the opposition has been levelling at me over the past week. I have nothing. The member can say it is not the truth, but I stand here very comfortably and tell her that nothing has come to my office, nothing at all, Mrs Burke. You are walking a very fine line here. You are accepting one side of a story that is going through a very thorough process, more thorough than anything you could do in this place. We have a process in place that is looking at all the allegations. It is protected by public interest disclosure legislation. When that investigation is complete I will then be briefed on this matter.

I was briefed by the department on 26 July to say that it has a public interest disclosure and that I could not be briefed on it, and that I could not know anything of what it is looking into. That is quite appropriate. For Mrs Burke to list the allegations that have been raised and which are subject to inquiry relating to public officers within departments, and just accept that that is the truth, is completely offensive and is interfering with a thorough process that should run its natural course-if it were not for Mrs Burke's interfering. All care, no responsibility.

Trees

MRS DUNNE (5.22): Yesterday, in an MPI, I referred to the potential tragedy of deaths of large numbers of trees in Canberra. While I will not revisit the arguments put then, I should make a couple of related points. The death of trees is not a direct result of government action or inaction. The direct cause of the death of most of the trees is drought. I suspect there is at least a subconscious view on the part of the government that drought, like fire, is what we might call an act of God and that others might call part of the great cycle of nature or part of the primordial and majestic Australian landscape. I will leave aside the vexed question of to what extent the Australia landscape is a natural system and to what extent it is the result of human intervention over the millennia. Such questions will doubtless entertain academics for years if not for millennia.

But I would say emphatically that we in Canberra are not living in a wilderness. It may be part of nature for trees to die in drought, for kangaroos to eat all the grass down to ground level and then starve in large numbers, and, arguably, for regular cleansing bushfires to occur in the wilderness. But if those things happen here, in and around our capital city, in what is very much a managed environment, it is a failure of that management. Human beings have been planting trees for millennia and those who live in areas where conditions are marginal for the trees they want to plant recognise that from time to time additional water may be required.

It is not beyond the ingenuity of much less technically advanced societies than ours to find ways to efficiently deliver water to trees in need of it. As a positive measure, and I have suggested it before, we should look at sinking a perforated pipe-some of us might call it ag-pipe-to get water down to the roots of our substantial investment in trees. As a negative measure, we might at least rethink the arrangement where, not content with charging people to water street trees, we prohibit most methods and times of watering. If we do this, it may still be too late. We may find, come spring, as I have said earlier, that many of these deciduous trees have already gone forever.


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