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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 4 Hansard (29 March) . . Page.. 1208 ..

MR RUGENDYKE (5.21): I will not be supporting Mr Corbell's amendment. Quite frankly, I am going with the expert-the expert who is relied on by Ms Tucker and Mr Corbell. Whenever we talk about trees in this place, whom do we listen to? Dr Robert Boden. I just wonder why they are now going away from the eminence of that man in this debate. I am satisfied with Dr Robert Boden's assessment of this legislation. I am with him.

MR MOORE (Minister for Health, Housing and Community Services) (5.22): Mr Speaker, I think there is another factor that needs to be taken into account here. We have something in the order of 1.6 million trees in the ACT. That is the number we are talking about. If in the interim period we lose 10, 20 or 100, is that really a disaster in the context of 1.6 million trees?

MR CORBELL (5.23): Mr Speaker, I note the government's intention in relation to adding additional criteria to the disallowable instrument which will outline the criteria on which the conservator will make a decision about approving a tree-damaging activity. There may be very good reason for including such a criteria and I will welcome the opportunity to discuss that further with the minister if this amendment is passed today.

To respond to Mr Moore's point, whilst there may be a small number that may be lost in the overall context of the total number of trees planted in the territory, you only have to look at where redevelopment activity is concentrated in the city. Even the removal of a relatively small number of trees in established suburbs can dramatically change the appearance of an established suburb, and do so, Mr Moore, for a significant time. Before replacement can adequately occur, you may be talking about 30 or 40 years.

I think Mr Moore trivialises the issue. I would have thought that a person who lived in an established area of Canberra would have been more sensitive to the changes that can occur when even a relatively small number of mature trees or very mature trees are removed in such an area, and the impact that can have on the amenity and aesthetic value that residents have of that area. Mr Speaker, I am disappointed that the government will not support this amendment.

To respond to Mr Rugendyke's comments, of course everyone in this place takes account of all of the expert advice that is provided to us, and I am not disregarding that for one moment; but, as elected representatives, we have both the opportunity and the responsibility to ensure that whatever decision we take here represents what we believe to be the broader community view. Of course we have to take expert views into account in coming to that, but they are not the sole determinant of the decisions we have to make in this place. In the context of the need to ensure that pre-emptive removal of trees does not occur before we come to the establishment of a permanent register, we do need to ensure that the coverage is as broad as possible. I urge members to support the amendment.

Question put:

That Mr Corbell's amendment be agreed to.

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