Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 06 Hansard (Wednesday, 6 June 2018) . . Page.. 2046 ..
What makes it even worse is that the government does not appear to care about or to want community feedback about these local services. In this week’s budget, the government have conveniently removed five measures of customer satisfaction and public safety. Unsurprisingly, these measures in the past few years have shown a decline in satisfaction with the government’s management of public spaces. The best way to do away with poor customer satisfaction levels is to abolish the measures so that we no longer have to deal with not meeting targets. It is a very convenient way of working. Then we have this self-congratulatory motion which seems to ignore the fact that satisfaction was declining over the years and now has been removed as a measure from the budget.
There is only one real detail in Ms Cheyne’s motion, one figure, and that is the planting of 1,330 trees. These trees are to reduce the heat island effect in urban areas. That is interesting. I repeat, Madam Speaker: to cool down the city, the government will plant 1,330 trees. It is admirable to plant 1,330 trees, and we support that. Many of us have planted that and many more in projects across the country over the past few years. The point is that the government are trying to make a virtue out of something that is pretty much business as usual. And it is not much of a contribution to Canberra’s urban tree forest. They are saying they are going to plant 1,330 trees when it is actually a fraction of the annual plantings of other years.
Let us put 1,330 trees into perspective. In very rough terms, it is about 13 trees per suburb. We have over three-quarters of a million public trees in Canberra, so this year’s 1,330 new trees is around 1.6 per cent of the number of urban public trees. Planting this number will hardly keep up with the current rate at which our suburban and street trees are dying.
By comparison, in 2007 this government committed $30.8 million as part of the million trees project. By comparison, in 2009 the government planted 6,250 trees in Canberra streets, a further 2,600 around our lakes, and 558 trees to replace dying trees. We know that 1,330 trees is only around double the number the government cut down for the light rail project. It is only a fraction of the 230,000 trees that the government has planted along the Murrumbidgee corridor since 2008.
We support the sensible and carefully selected planning of urban trees, but this motion is trying to make a big deal out of something that is pretty much business as usual for the government, nothing out of the ordinary.
The second part of that point in Ms Cheyne’s motion is that these 1,330 trees are being planted to reduce the heat island effect in urban areas. A report called Mapping surface urban heat in Canberra by CSIRO, commissioned by the ACT government, has very telling lessons for urban microclimates and the heat island effect in urban areas.
One of its findings is that Gungahlin has the highest heat exposure and vulnerability of any Canberra district. Retrofitting urban trees into Gungahlin to try to reverse the impacts of decades of poor planning policies will have only marginal impact for that area. Suburbs in Gungahlin are dominated by small blocks, extensive rooftops and