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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 11 Hansard (14 November) . . Page.. 3439..


Environment-tree plantings

DR FOSKEY: My question, which is to the Chief Minister, concerns the arboretum planting. Chief Minister, would you please explain what has led you to decide that November, in a drought, is an appropriate time to plant thousands of young trees when early spring is generally considered the safest time to plant trees? Would you please table any advice that you have received?

MR STANHOPE: It is interesting in this day and age of rapidly advancing climate change to see the Greens' party leading the charge against the planting of trees. It is an interesting paradox that the first to stand in this place and criticise the government for planting trees, or these particular trees, is the Greens. I think it is perhaps a reflection of the extent to which the Greens have lost their way and really have lost the basis on which they seek the support of the community that they stand now and oppose the planting of trees. It really is, is it not, a wonderful paradox to see the Greens become the anti-tree party in the ACT Legislative Assembly?

But are they anti-trees or are they anti these trees? Is it a case that all trees, when they germinate, germinate equally but some trees are more equal than others? We are talking about 6,000 trees. In the last four years the government has planted four and a half million trees, but we have this fixation, this fetish around 6,000 of the four and a half million. Of the four and a half million trees that have been planted, the government, actively over the last couple of years, has watered just on 150,000 of them, with nary a question from the Greens, who have a new-found opposition to trees, or at least a new-found opposition to some trees, these particular trees.

Those four and a half million trees are more equal, of course, than the arboretum trees. The four and a half million trees do not attract the angst or the attention of the Greens with their fetish about what are not trees per se, but exotics. These are not natives; therefore they are bad trees.

DR FOSKEY: You are missing the point.

MR STANHOPE: These are bad trees, these 6,000 trees that the Greens have targeted in their campaign. We were asked why we did not plant these trees in spring. Let us cast our minds back. How much rain fell in September this year? How much rain fell in October? The Greens would plant trees by the month, with no regard for the weather. They have no regard to whether or not it actually rained. What was the rainfall in October? It was 1.4 millimetres. The Greens would plant in October because this is the designated time; the moon is in the right position. There is no rain, no water at all, but it is October. Therefore, we should plant while the moon is high.

This is nonsense! We face the greatest challenge the earth has ever faced. Even the Liberal Party has now accepted that we need to address climate change, greenhouse gas emissions and how to deal with the excess carbon that is smothering the world. One of the simple and expeditious things we can do as a community is plant trees. The ACT government actively contributes to programs designed to ensure that, through


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