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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 9 Hansard (27 August) . . Page.. 3251 ..

MRS DUNNE (continuing):

that we made a mistake. If that was a mistake, Mr Speaker, we're here today saying that we made a mistake.

There is a solution to this problem, Mr Speaker. The previous speakers, Ms Dundas and Ms Tucker, have demonstrated the age of the trees, the importance of the trees, the significance of the trees, not only as trees themselves but to the Belconnen community. These are issues that we have taken into consideration when we've come to the conclusion to support this motion.

The other thing about this, Mr Speaker, is that there is a solution; there is other land in the area available that would be suitable to build a liquor store on. If this motion succeeds, without constraining the government to look at particular blocks of land, the community has actually pointed out to me, to Mr Stefaniak, to anyone who cared to listen and to those on the other side who don't care to listen, that just across the road, near the bus depot, there is an underutilised car park that could just as suitably be used to build a liquor store on-in fact, more suitably be used-because it has no trees of significance on it; it is already developed; it has tarmac on it already; there aren't any trees there. It is a block that would be big enough to accommodate it.

Yes, we do understand, Mr Speaker, that, by doing this, the government, on behalf of the ACT people, may incur some expenses because the proponent who has bought the land-it has now changed hands; it is owned by Coles Myer-has actually spent some money on making proposals and developing proposals for the site which they bought. They bought it in good faith, Mr Speaker, but sometimes things move on.

What this is about is recognising that yes, things move on; that this is not an irretrievable situation; that there is a solution; that there are vacant blocks of land in Belconnen which are just as suitable for a liquor site. But there are no vacant blocks of land, Mr Speaker, which contain 300 to 400-year-old trees.

We were talking about this in the party room this morning. I suspect I might have misled the party room, because I said that I thought that the oldest of the trees was approaching 400 years and one of the members said, "That means that it was a sapling when Queen Elizabeth I was a slip of a girl."That may not be entirely true; it may in fact be that it was a sapling at the time of the Restoration.

But this means, Mr Speaker, that this tree has been here for longer than any of us here, for longer than white men have been in this country, and the importance of that to the community, to the amenity of the community, to the perceptions of the community, can't be underestimated. What we're actually asking here today, by passing this motion, is for us to take stock; to say that this is possibly not the best site in Belconnen for a liquor store; and if we want to have another liquor store in Belconnen-and I don't want to get into the debate on whether six is enough-let us find a block of land which is more suitable for that, so that the trees can continue to prosper.

This is why the Liberal opposition supports this motion. I would like to echo the words of Ms Dundas and pay tribute to the Belconnen community, to the Belconnen Community Council and, in particular, to Ms Helen Brewer, who has been tireless in this.

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