Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 11 Hansard (Wednesday, 10 November 2021) . . Page.. 3222 ..
but, as we all know, it is one thing to have ambitious goals and another to set out a plan for how we are going to achieve them.
Our kids might harbour ambitions to be selected for the Ashes or go to the Olympics—or, like someone in my house, to be a TikTok influencer. I would say that that is great; just tell us how we are going to get there. Again, the question becomes: it is great to set that goal but where is the plan and what are we doing to achieve it?
So, too, with the environment. Let us acknowledge our ambitious goals. They are great; we all share them and we hope for them. But let us not let the government shrink from the real, hard, challenging work—and it is challenging—of setting out the detailed plan. It is a road map, to use the jargon of the day, as to how the government will lead us there.
We know that Canberra’s canopy cover is estimated to be 22.5 per cent of the urban footprint; but, as the minister pointed out, coverage is not equal across our territory—not at all. There is great disparity in our tree canopy coverage, and it reflects poor planning by the government, which has overseen a decline in Canberra’s environment.
Many streets in the newer suburbs in my electorate of Yerrabi are almost treeless, with communities deprived of much-needed green space—not to mention local parks and reserves are poorly maintained, with nature strips that are weed infested. We must do better. It is not good enough that Gungahlin has only 14.13 per cent of tree canopy coverage. I would like to make it clear to the minister today that I will be tracking the figure closely on behalf of my constituents.
The minister boasts in his ministerial statement that the government will plant 54,000 new trees by 2024. I have to ask: why has it taken this long? Why hasn’t it happened earlier, particularly in the new suburbs of Gungahlin, where the tree canopy is so low?
I also have concerns about how decisions are made about where the trees are planted, particularly looking at the autumn and spring 2021 planting programs. In autumn this year, we know that 977 trees were planted in Belconnen, which has a tree canopy coverage of 24 per cent, compared to only 680 in Gungahlin, where the canopy coverage is 10 per cent less. Looking at the spring 2021 planting program, again, we see the same pattern, with 810 new plantings in Belconnen, compared to less than 600 in Gungahlin.
As the report clearly states, 26 suburbs have a canopy cover of less than 15 per cent, with the Gungahlin suburbs of Crace, Bonner, Forde, Franklin, Taylor and Harrison in that section. The figure for Gungahlin itself is only 8.3 per cent; for Crace it is only 8.8 per cent. It is hard to understand, therefore, why the priorities for autumn and spring were not in those neglected suburbs rather than in Belconnen.
In conclusion, I note that, by 2023-24, tree plantings are projected by the government to be 20,000 each year—the annual number that we require to reach our target. The Canberra Liberals understand and strongly support the importance of achieving at least a 30 per cent tree canopy, sooner rather than later, and want to emphasise the