Page 3340 - Week 11 - Tuesday, 20 September 2005
consulted a different group of people. The government has produced a huge raft of amendments to address some of the problems that no doubt have arisen and on which it is responding to constituents’ concerns. I think that those amendments indicate that perhaps the government did not do its own consultation properly when producing the initial bill and I think that it would have helped members if we had had a redraft of the bill rather than a list of amendments that is half as long as the bill itself. When you add to those amendments the amendments that I will be putting forward today and that Mrs Dunne will be putting forward, you can see that this is probably a bit of legislation that could do with a bit more workshopping.
Firstly, it must be recognised that this bill does not take an ecological approach to tree protection in the ACT. In this bill, there is no distinction between a native tree and an introduced tree. It does not improve the protection of trees in Canberra above what the Tree Protection (Interim Scheme) Act 2001 already does. However, it does reduce the amount of administration by integrating the tree protection decision making with development applications. I am glad to see a more integrated approach to tree protection and planning and I look forward to other moves to include more biodiversity protection measures in our planning system.
This bill is based on protecting individual trees, regardless of their species or their biodiversity protection values. Many of us who have flown into Canberra from more arid places are very glad to see Canberra, which looks like a city in the forest from the air and from many of the hilltops surrounding our bush capital. The Greens support tree legislation which moves towards retaining and protecting a certain amount of tree cover, not just individual trees. This bill is not designed to do that; we need a different kind of legislation to do so. But we appreciate that this bill is largely about protecting trees on an individual basis for aesthetic and landscape purposes, and there is merit in that for many reasons.
But trees do more for us than add beauty to our landscape. They actually provide multiple environmental benefits. The Greens believe that we need to protect trees in order to lower temperatures. For instance, studies have shown that having a reasonable number of trees placed propitiously around one’s home will reduce the temperature inside in summer, reducing the need for airconditioners, and increase it in winter, thus assisting in lowering greenhouse gas emissions. We all know that airconditioners are one of the new products increasing energy consumption all round Australia as people attempt to ease their discomfort in summer.
Trees also increase the moisture content in urban gardens if planted carefully, thereby altering the microclimate of individual gardens and making them safer in bushfires. There are also some species that actually reduce the fire flammability of gardens. Used propitiously and with understanding and knowledge, trees not only play an important role in our efforts to improve our amenity, to make our city look more beautiful and enhance the bush capital reputation, but also have an environmental role, many of the implications of which we do not yet understand.
We all know that trees have an important habitat value for native wildlife and we all recognise that protecting remnant vegetation in Canberra is vitally important to Canberra’s native fauna and contributes to the biodiversity protected within the ACT parks and reserves system. Having nature parks is all very well, but if they are isolated