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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 07 Hansard (Tuesday, 29 June 2010) . . Page.. 2808 ..

MRS DUNNE: Fair crack of the whip, boys.

Mr Hanson: We are hanging on every word, Mrs Dunne.

MRS DUNNE: Yes, I know.

MR SPEAKER: Thank you. Mrs Dunne.

MRS DUNNE: Thank you. Over the years we have seen in the vicinity of $40 million spent on Mr Stanhope’s personal tree farm, his own personal jolly, to the detriment of the urban amenity that people in the ACT hope to enjoy, would want to enjoy. We are now at a point where the Canberra Liberals say enough is enough. We are actually making a choice. And we are encouraging the Greens to do the same. We are saying that if we have got to choose between trees do we choose Mr Stanhope’s jolly on the hill or do we choose the trees in Blacket Street, in Pigot Street—in all of those streets in north Canberra—

Mr Seselja interjecting—

MRS DUNNE: That is a bit personal. The point is that we have made the decision that we will stand up for the people of the ACT and their street trees. And the real question here today is whether the Greens are prepared—although they make sympathetic noises—to tell the Chief Minister that enough is enough and to take the money out of the arboretum and put it back in the street tree program, because the people of the ACT deserve the amenity and the benefits that trees in their streets give them.

Mr Seselja has touched on this. Trees make a better microclimate. We all hear about the urban heat island effect and the most important antidote to that is the planting of trees. We have heard how it improves not just the amenity but the climate. Something that I have always talked about is that it actually improves the value of people’s property. There is an intangible—most people think it is intangible—and when we first started looking at this issue back in 2004 I actually went to property valuers and said, “What do you think it is worth?” And back in 2004 the senior property valuers around this town were saying that, if you went to value a house and it did not have good street trees and the garden was dead or dying, before you did anything else you took $10,000 off the value of the property. That was six years ago. That will have increased significantly because the value of land has increased significantly. So every time we fail to spend taxpayers’ money maintaining the public domain in relation to street trees we are devaluing the property values of everybody in the ACT.

Some people may not think that is important, but the people who are paying the taxes need the property values to be maintained; otherwise they will not be able to pay the taxes. This is why the Canberra Liberals have taken this stand and said enough is enough. This is the time we draw a line in the sand and say, “Take the money out of the arboretum, put it back in the street trees and start providing some amenity to the people of the ACT.”

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