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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 07 Hansard (Wednesday, 30 June 2010) . . Page.. 2919 ..


renewal program. It is a 30-year program. There is all this balderdash that is reflected in the Liberal Party’s position on this. But it is a 30-year program of renewal and we need to get it right. That is why I referred the issue of the planning and the implementation to the Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment, in order to ensure, through her consultative mechanisms and the wisdom that she brings to the task, that at the end of the day we will have a consensus-based, bipartisan, well-consulted approach to how to proceed over the next 30 years to carry through on the renewal of our urban forests.

That is the government’s intention. It has been referred off to the commissioner. She has had the inquiry going for some months. She has formally advised that she expects to complete a report in September. I have indicated that when the report is received in September the government’s preference is for it to be referred to a standing committee of the Legislative Assembly for inquiry and report. I believe, having regard to the seriousness of the issue, we should do that. I would expect that that will not be achieved before 2011, and then the government will need to respond to that. And that brings us to next year’s budget.

In the context of this particular program, the decision I took, the decision which the government has pursued, is that to maintain in this year’s budget funding for a program that has been reported on by the Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment and will be referred to an Assembly committee is simply not good. We have deferred it. We do not walk away for one minute from the importance of this particular project. The urban forest must be protected and it must be renewed. How we do that will at times be very challenging.

This is the issue that nobody in the Liberal Party has touched on in their ranting around this issue: there are some species, I am advised, in some streets, in some suburbs in Canberra, that the experts believe in their hearts should not be renewed. If that is the decision, the initiative, based on expert advice, that we decide to proceed with, I invite the Leader of the Opposition, and indeed Ms Le Couteur, to stand with me in a street with 200 people and say: “Guys, let’s have a street meeting. Guess what, guys? We have collectively decided that the only way to safeguard this part of our urban forest is to cut down every single tree in this street and replant it with another species.” I must say that I am not particularly wedded to that prospect, or particularly excited by it.

I have seen some streets, and I am sure you all have, where the trees in the street look bad, and if you go to the experts and ask, “Why do these trees look so crook?” they will say: “Because they should never have been planted here. They are an entirely wrong species. They do not grow in this climate.” But I have got a sneaking suspicion that, if you live in that street with one of those trees on your nature strip for 40 years, you get a bit attached to them. I have got some daggy trees at my house; you get attached even to daggy trees. I guarantee that there would be significant community concern and protest and agitation if we pursued those sorts of policies. That is why I have asked the Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment.

I will conclude on that. Everybody knows my views. Everybody knows that at its heart this motion is a quite blatant, confected piece of politics designed to cause me some presumed damage by associating me with the arboretum project that I regard as


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