Page 2266 - Week 07 - Thursday, 23 June 2005

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been on the block for 20 or 30 years, are not relatively expendable. I have only lived in the house that I currently live in—it was a virgin block 15 years ago—for about 15 years. To look at photographs when we moved in and of what there is now, it is a changed environment, because of the trees that we planted and the trees that were virgin. If we have to go back and redo it—and multiply that by the 100,000 households in Canberra—it will mean a huge cost, a huge investment and a huge depreciation of our urban amenity.

This government does not care. Mr Hargreaves has told us how many thousand trees have already died. There are others that will die. Even when the drought is over, there will be others that will never recover. It might take them four or five years to finally die. I was going to say “drop off the twig” but that would be inappropriate. It will take them years to die. In the meantime, we are losing that amenity. This is a government that does not care. This is a government that is not prepared to make a short-term investment so that our long-term property investment is not depreciated as much.

The government should be taking initiatives to look after our playgrounds and our sports fields because of the cost of re-establishing the turf that is necessary there. We should be taking care to ensure that our street trees are not put under undue stress, even if there is a drought. We should be innovative about that. We would rather spend the money later replanting trees rather than keeping those trees alive.

Mr Pratt talked about constituents who say to him—and somebody said to me the other day—“You know, this place looks awful; this place is just going to rack and ruin.” It was said to me last Tuesday night, and it is something that is repeated over and over again. It is the responsibility of this government to do some thing about it.

MR DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! The member’s time has expired.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (4.04): It is no surprise that the ACT Greens’ approach to the urban environment and its planning and management is based on ecological and social sustainability. We support an urban environment that encourages public use, preserves local native vegetation and animal life, promotes safety and is well maintained. Ways in which the ACT government can encourage the use of public places are by providing community meeting and relaxation areas and encouraging public art.

I think it is key to note at this time, because I do believe that when we are talking about the urban environment we are talking about planning as much as we are talking about Mr Hargreaves’s portfolio, that, with the development of the new Griffin Centre, which will be tucked around the corner, the government and the developer have not taken up the opportunity to give it direct access to the new public space on Bunda Street. So the staff and the users of these community services will have the benefit of a narrow street, while people shopping will enjoy the new open space as an extension of Garema Place. As far as I am concerned, that is not a bit of good design.

I was pleased, however, to see the government’s commitment of $1 million to public art in the recent budget. I was interested to read that the Minister for Planning will be seeking greater private sector involvement to rejuvenate Canberra’s public spaces. I look forward to more detail on how this will be achieved.

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