Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 05 Hansard (Wednesday, 12 May 2021) . . Page.. 1361 ..
Mr Hanson: I often do.
MR STEEL: Please take it up with me again. If you think we have got it wrong, I am happy to consider it again. But these things are often governed by guidelines and legislation—the Tree Protection Act, in particular—in relation to leased land. As you are aware, we have been undertaking a review of that act. I have already anticipated that legislation will come before the Assembly around the end of the year which will look at tree protection, not only on leased land but on public land as well.
MR HANSON: Minister, why is it that the NCA is willing to remove trees that are damaging plumbing but in many cases you are not?
MR STEEL: I thank the member for his question. I do not think there is a clear comparison. Each site will be looked at on a case-by-case basis. Obviously, we do not want to remove trees if they are providing a benefit to the neighbourhood. If they are causing a significant problem, sometimes approval is given for them to be removed. It depends where they are, where they are situated and what the level of damage is in the particular case.
MS LAWDER: Minister, why can’t your government be more understanding of the concerns of Canberra residents who are trying to get trees removed where the roots continually damage their plumbing?
MR STEEL: We are absolutely considerate of what is happening on people’s property in relation to trees. Just this week I met face-to-face at the Assembly with a couple that have had some damage as a result of a tree, to talk through what can be done. We certainly are listening to people, but these are governed by guidelines and legislation. Ultimately, we are not a government that wants to see trees chopped down for no reason. There has to be a very good reason to be able to do so. Often these issues can be managed.
The reality is that trees do grow roots and that does cause damage from time to time. That is something that we have to live with in order to make sure that we have the fantastic canopy that we have in Canberra, that really creates the entire character of our city.
DR PATERSON: My question is to the Minister for Transport and City Services. Minister, can you please provide an outline of the impact of COVID-19 on the territory’s public transport system?
MR STEEL: I thank Dr Paterson for her question. It is fair to say that COVID-19 has presented challenges to everyone over the past year, and public transport is no different. COVID-19 saw a significant overall drop in public transport patronage, with patronage dramatically falling in early April 2020 to around 14 per cent of 2019 figures. This probably understates the real impact of the pandemic on patronages. Overall patronage numbers had increased by 7.7 per cent across the first part of the