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MR MOORE (12.20): In many ways Mr Berry - let me see whether I can find the right word - presents badly the situation that is currently in place in the community. First of all, he takes on the responsibility of trying to tell the Assembly what I think. Mr Berry does not know and he certainly misrepresents regularly what it is that I think and how I view the situation. I view this situation as one where what we have in our community and what we have had for a long time is one of the best treed communities right across Australia, and one of the reasons for that is that people are encouraged to grow trees. They do not have a problem when they are thinking about whether they will put a tree here or there. If it goes wrong, if it gets too big, they know when they are planting the tree that they have the prerogative of modifying the tree or, if necessary, cutting it down.
Tree preservation orders would be introduced with this amendment by Labor, orders which they have not effectively introduced under previous circumstances. Certainly nobody in the ACT believes that there are tree preservation orders throughout the ACT, and it would be big news for them today to find out that that is the case. One of the great concerns is that it would be a discouragement for people to protect the environment because we would be discouraging them from growing trees. You have only to look at the communities where tree preservation orders apply to see that. I know from speaking to people who live in some of the treed areas in suburbs of Sydney, particularly St Ives and Turramurra and places like that, that it is always a concern for them whether or not they should plant a tree. They might be caught out later and not be able to do anything about it if the tree is a concern in terms of the safety of their house or their children.
We do not have a problem in the ACT with trees generally, other than some specific rather large, rather significant trees. As Mr Humphries rightly points out, we have the prerogative of getting a heritage order on those trees, and my understanding is that there have been quite a number of trees to which that has applied, as well as stands of trees, if my memory serves me correctly. The notion that we can resolve the problem by putting up a law, when we have no bureaucracy to support it, and then take people to court is an extraordinarily crude mechanism on the part of the Labor Party that is destined not only to fail but also to make the situation worse. What you are doing is discouraging people from planting trees. Trying to take the high moral ground on this simply will not work. It will backfire in the same way as so many other things you have done previously have backfired.
We have a situation where, for a bit of politicking, Labor has decided to move this amendment, which is half baked, half thought through, which was not even ready this morning, and which has been roughly crafted, I imagine, looking at it, by Mr Berry. One wonders about even the drafting of the amendment. This is simply a grandstanding approach by Mr Berry, who has been so concerned over the last few months that it may well be that he has to prove Labor's environmental credentials in order to ensure that they can regain some of the green vote they lost at the last election and the election before. That is what it is really about. So we get a half-baked idea, half thought through, and something that will actually do much more damage than good. When he wants to put up some decent legislation that appropriately protects specific trees that need protecting, instead of protecting the Cootamundra wattles and other invasive plants at the same time, then we can look to having a sensible debate instead of this half-baked idea Mr Berry has now.