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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 4 Hansard (29 March) . . Page.. 1154 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

For those reasons, Mr Speaker, the Labor Party welcomes the bill introduced by the government today. The bill is designed to give interim protection for certain trees in the ACT before permanent legislation, which also has been introduced by the minister today, is debated and hopefully passed by the Assembly.

The question that we are faced with today is twofold. Firstly, we have to address the issue of the importance of passing this legislation today. The leader of the Labor Party, Mr Stanhope, made some comments in a headland speech a few weeks ago about the importance of the Assembly having due time to properly consider legislation, and, in particular, comments from committees of this place such as the scrutiny of bills committee. I think it is important also, Mr Speaker, to recognise that on rare occasions there is a requirement to pass legislation more quickly than is the normal course of events for bills introduced in this place. I would argue very strongly that this is one of those occasions.

We need to have in place legislation now which prevents pre-emptive removal of trees which may very well fall under the provisions of a permanent protection measure in the permanent significant tree register legislation the minister introduced this morning. It would be unfortunate if the Assembly did not pass this bill today because, the government having flagged its intention to put in place permanent protections, individuals may seek to pre-empt those protections by removing trees prior to any permanent protection taking effect. Therefore, we do need an interim scheme, and that is what this bill provides. I think the arguments are compelling for passing the bill in the quick manner that the Assembly is being asked to do today.

The other issue that the Assembly needs to address in dealing with this bill today is the criteria on which it will be judged that trees warrant interim protection. I will speak more on this in the detail stage, Mr Speaker, but I think it is important to flag that the government is proposing a range of criteria for protecting certain trees which the Labor Party believes needs to be a little broader.

The government is proposing that a tree will be given protection if it is classed as a significant tree in accordance with one of three criteria. The first relates to the tree being a eucalypt on leased land with a trunk circumference of 21/2 metres or more at one metre above the natural ground level. The second criteria relates to a eucalypt that is also on leased land, has two or more trunks and the total circumference of those trunks at one metre above ground level is 21/2 metres, and the average for the trunk circumferences is 0.75 metres or more. The third criteria is for any other tree species that is on leased land that is 12 metres or more high, or has a trunk with a circumference of 11/2 metres or more, or has a canopy 12 metres or more wide.

We have a concern about the somewhat limited nature of these criteria. These criteria do provide adequate interim protection for exotic trees or any other tree other than a eucalypt. The provisions there are broad and they do encompass those trees that do contribute to the public realm, to the streetscape, to the amenity of suburbs and other areas in the city.

But in relation to eucalypts, Mr Speaker, the proposals relate to only two specific instances of eucalypt-a eucalypt which has a trunk circumference of 21/2 metres or more, or a eucalypt with multiple trunks which, combined, will have a circumference of

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