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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 11 Hansard (Thursday, 22 September 2005) . . Page.. 3549 ..


In relation to an issue such as this, an assessment of trees in particular circumstances of the ACT and trees in an urban area, we can all sit here now and do a brainstorm around the chamber on the other qualifications that would potentially be relevant. We have provided that a relevant qualification will be a person in the field or an expert in the field of natural heritage. An amendment is proposed that we specifically provide for an ecologist. In the context of comments that have been made by others: I see that the Housing Industry Association has a particular view about trees close to houses or trees that might impact on a built form, trees that might impact on a person’s capacity to build an extension. Should we perhaps have a building engineer on the Tree Advisory Panel for specific advice on the implications around the specific concerns of the Housing Industry Association?

Maybe it would be better, in the context of some of the debate around the co-location of trees and buildings and the impact of a building on the capacity for a tree to receive appropriate water, to have a hydrological expert on the panel, somebody to give detailed advice. The impact on the hydrology of the tree in a certain location beside a road or a big building was a very significant feature of the debate in relation to the trees at Nettlefold Street in Belconnen. Perhaps rather than say an ecologist, why not a hydrologist, as somebody with particular expertise and understanding of the impact of the built form?

Then again, perhaps there should be a town planner in relation to issues around the declaration of a treed precinct. Maybe it is appropriate that we, in taking the advice most specifically in relation to these large areas of protection, seek specifically to appoint to our Tree Advisory Panel somebody with town planning expertise.

Maybe we should have somebody, particularly in relation to that same issue of larger areas of trees and the implications of maintaining an urban forest, with expertise in fire behaviour. Perhaps we should elevate that as a qualification for the Tree Advisory Panel. The first amongst all of the mix that we should appoint, having regard to the danger from bushfire to trees, the first of the qualifications that should be sought, is that of an expert in relation to fire behaviour, the fire qualities of different trees and the extent to which our urban forests and our treed precinct areas need to be assessed in relation to the potential hazard.

We can all do that. I just raise those by way of debate. We can say, “I believe that the number one qualification, the number one expert on the Tree Advisory Panel, has to be an ecologist.” You can go around the room and everybody else will have a favourite qualification they would like to see. It might be that Mr Corbell would say, “We should have a town planner.” It might be that Ms Porter will say, “We need a fire expert.” We could go on forever. This is a piece of string of no given length once we sit down and say we are going to establish a Tree Advisory Panel to be a panel of experts. I have a certain predilection for an expert of this particular flavour; I do not agree with your list of experts; we could go on forever.

The government has made a decision about the constitution of the Tree Advisory Panel. I have no argument about the suggestion that an ecologist or somebody with experience in ecology or understanding or expertise would have relevant qualifications for the Tree Advisory Panel. At the end of the day, particularly in the context of a requirement for an


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