Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 11 Hansard (Tuesday, 20 September 2005) . . Page.. 3336 ..
When this legislation comes into effect, all of Canberra’s urban area will be a tree management precinct for two years. That is very important. One other point that needs to be made is that a regulated tree, that is, a big tree as opposed to an important tree, is only registrable if it is on leased land so that for most of the trees covered by this legislation, the vast majority of them, the government is not bound by the regulations it imposes upon its electors.
The notifiable instrument for a tree management precinct suggests that the minister has to be satisfied that there is a significant threat to the urban forest values, or there is likely to exist in the near future a significant threat, before something could be declared a tree management precinct. The whole problem with much of what is proposed in this regard is that the original piece of legislation has been around for four years, this government has been here for coming up to four years, this is the government’s second attempt to implement this legislation and most of the background work that underpins this legislation has not been done.
The mere fact that we have this blanket approach that every piece of leased land in the territory is a tree management precinct for the purposes of the act for two years shows that this government is incapable of getting on with the job. We have been talking about this matter for four years and none of the preliminary work has been done. We will have to wait another two years for this government to get its act together and actually work out which are the important areas for tree management precincts. I would submit that what the government has done by sheer laziness and lack of effort has been to catch many more people than is necessary.
There are some real problems with this legislation. As I said earlier, members of the public can conduct minor pruning, but that is where the triviality ends. If you have a registered tree, that is, an important tree, or the friend of an important tree, that is, an important tree in a landscaped context, you can only conduct minor pruning in accordance with Australian standard 4373 and, if you want to acquire details of that, you have to go to Standards Australia and pay substantial sums of money to do so.
Australian standard 4373 involves the removing of dead wood and the removing of limbs larger than 50 millimetres in diameter and it has an effect if you want to do anything more than reduce the bulk of the canopy by more than 10 per cent. If it is a big tree, as opposed to an important tree, minor pruning also has to be done in accordance with AS4373. The real problem, as the legislation currently stands, is: how does this affect Mr and Mrs Waramanga or Mr and Mrs Evatt?
Mr and Mrs Waramanga and Mr and Mrs Evatt probably do not know of the existence of Australian standard 4373. If they do and if they want to get at their big tree, their important tree or their important tree’s mate—the important tree may not be on their block but the mate may be on their block—they may not know, first of all, that it is a big tree, an important tree or an important tree’s mate. They probably do not know of the existence of the Australian standard and they certainly would not know that, if they do anything that is not in accordance with the Australian standard, this government will fang them, and that is what it is all about. What the government is trying to do under the pious pretensions that are set out in the objects of conserving the urban forest of the ACT is put a huge imposition upon individual leaseholders in the ACT.