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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 22 September 2010) . . Page.. 4299 ..


MR SPEAKER: Members, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that we have been joined by Mr Quinlan, a former member of this place. I welcome him back to the chamber.

Questions without notice

Environment—tree felling

MS LE COUTEUR: My question is to the Minister for Territory and Municipal Services and concerns the destruction of a tree on the provisional tree register. Minister, are you aware that on 29 August a massive English oak, 20 metres high and 20 metres wide, which had been listed on the provisional tree register for the past year, was cut down on the site of the old environment centre to make way for the new ANU Exchange development? Are you able to explain why the Conservator of Flora and Fauna moved the tree from the provisional tree register instead of transferring it to the permanent tree register?

MR STANHOPE: Thank you, Ms Le Couteur. I am aware that the tree was removed. I am aware, indeed, of what a significant tree it was. I am also aware, Ms Le Couteur, that an application had been made to the conservator in relation to the removal and, indeed, the appropriate treatment of that tree. And I am aware that the conservator decided, I think in broad terms for planning reasons, that he would not list the tree.

I think it is fair to say, Ms Le Couteur, that the Conservator of Flora and Fauna, in exercising his statutory responsibilities, made a judgement about whether or not the tree should be retained or whether it was appropriate for the ANU to remove it, in the context of its decision to seek to construct an additional 500 places of student accommodation on that site. He decided that it was reasonable and appropriate for him, having regard to all of his statutory obligations and the importance and significance of the tree, to give approval to the Australian National University to remove the tree to enable the construction of 500 units of student accommodation on the site.

I do believe that the conservator took into account detailed advice on the cost of moving the tree and, if the tree were moved, the likelihood of it remaining alive. I believe that the conservator also took into account the cost to the proponents, the ANU and the ANU’s partners, in seeking to redesign the student accommodation and build around the tree. I would want these figures corrected and would not wish to be held to them, but I understand that the conservator was advised that it would cost somewhere in the order of half a million dollars to move the tree and that there was no guarantee that the tree would survive being moved.

I understand that the conservator was advised by the proponents that it would cost them $6 million to redesign the building and seek to build around it—and not only that it would cost $6 million but that it would delay the project to a point where they could not meet the commitments that they had made to the ANU in relation to the NRAS funding which was fundamental to the construction of the building. That is my

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