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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 09 Hansard (Thursday, 18 August 2005 2005) . . Page.. 2875 ..

read about over your weeties. People who may have an interest in this probably do not know that it is going on. We are being asked today to decide that from right now, or the day after this bill is signed by the Chief Minister, there will be a moratorium. There is no introduction, no information, nothing out there in the public to allow the public to make any adjustments in that regard. This is an unacceptable way to behave.

The government was criticised by the scrutiny of bills committee for the way that it approached the subject so the government has come up with a different but equally bad solution. What it boils down to, and it was expressed at great length in the minister’s response in the in-principle stage, is that the government does not really care. It is only about 150 people, and we all know that they must be wealthy people because they live on large blocks in places like Forrest and Yarralumla. I suspect that Mr Stanhope does not think that people in those areas vote for him—and I suspect also that Dr Foskey thinks that people in those areas do not vote for him—so they do not count. We immediately have this class war thing coming up: these are rich people on large blocks.

The minister asked, “Who is benefiting from these people being able to extract water and keep their gardens going?” Of course, the people who own the blocks benefit from it; there is no doubt about that. Yes, they will benefit. They will maintain their property values. But Mr Stanhope seems to fail to understand that these people are unable to make any other arrangement. As Mr Mulcahy said, because of the planning and heritage limitations on most of those blocks, they cannot subdivide their blocks. It is against the law. We made the decision in this place, in the previous two Assemblies, to prevent people from subdividing these blocks.

We also made decisions in the previous Assembly about what we require people who live in these areas to do with their gardens. They must maintain their hedges and they must maintain the heritage aspects of their plantings. We made decisions in the last Assembly about elements of the garden city in the oldest part of the garden city; the places that are affected most by this moratorium. It is not just the personal benefits that people gain from having a garden of a particular sort; it is about the impact it has on the streetscape and on the vistas. It is about the impact that it has on the whole of the territory.

Taking away the ability of these people to maintain their gardens will have long-term impacts upon the garden city and the urban forest. At some stage in the future, we will be debating the Tree Protection Bill. I will be moving amendments to the Tree Protection Bill to make it a tree-harming activity to fail to water your trees. If we are going to have legislation to protect trees, let us have real legislation to protect trees. Do not use this legislation to take away people’s rights and responsibilities under legislation to maintain their heritage-listed gardens and their heritage-listed streetscapes in a way that this Assembly and this legislature, over a very long period, has demanded of people.

Mr Stanhope said some fairly spectacular things in his closing remarks. He said, “We are driving cultural change.” This moratorium will not do anything to change the way people water their gardens. It will not do anything to cause them to think that they can get the same result with less water, to have a more efficient watering system. There is nothing in this about cultural change. There is nothing in this about communicating better, smarter ways of maintaining your garden. There is nothing in this that creates communication

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