Page 1131 - Week 04 - Thursday, 17 March 2005

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Thursday, 17 March 2005

MR SPEAKER (Mr Berry) took the chair at 10.30 am and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.


MR SPEAKER: I welcome the students from Phillip College who are in the gallery.

Tree Protection Bill 2005

Mr Stanhope, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment and Minister for Arts, Heritage and Indigenous Affairs) (10.34): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

Mr Speaker, it is with a great deal of satisfaction that I bring to the Assembly today a bill for permanent tree protection for urban Canberra. You may recall that in May 2004 I tabled the Tree Protection Bill 2004. However, the election of October 2004 precluded Assembly debate.

The government has taken the opportunity to re-examine the provisions of the bill. As a consequence, some amendments have been incorporated to provide greater certainty about decision-making processes, improve the integration of tree protection considerations in planning processes, and provide a smoother transition to new tree protection arrangements.

The objectives of the bill are unchanged. The government remains committed to providing strong and effective legislation that strikes the right balance between protecting the cultural and natural heritage of Canberra and not impinging unduly on the expectations and rights of property owners with trees on their property.

Every Canberran enjoys the benefits of living in one of Australia’s best urban forests. The urban forest provides us with economic, environmental and aesthetic benefits, as well as playing an important role in the realisation of Walter Burley Griffin’s vision of a garden city. The development and maintenance of a healthy urban forest is an important step towards creating a sustainable city.

This bill will replace the Tree Protection (Interim Scheme) Act 2001 with legislation that will significantly improve the protection of outstanding trees throughout the city and will ensure the benefits of the urban forest can be enjoyed long into the future.

In October 2002, the government released a discussion paper—Tree protection for the ACT: the next steps—which canvassed a range of issues that arose during the

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