Page 3392 - Week 11 - Tuesday, 20 September 2005
and environmental benefits of urban forests and how to best ensure that we maintain that part, or that feature, of this city. It is a very significant feature of Canberra, a part of its liveability and a valuable component of Canberra’s sustainability.
It has to be said that over the past four years, since the introduction by the previous government of the tree protection interim scheme, it has, quite successfully and to the chagrin of many, reduced the unnecessary loss of trees and wholesale block clearing that was perhaps associated with development prior to the introduction of the scheme and that has essentially and ultimately led to its introduction.
We all acknowledge the sense of the legislation, which the Labor Party certainly supported at the time. It was legislation that was necessary. Our experience shows us, and has shown us, that it is harsh and a bit unbending and does impact on the quiet enjoyment by some people of their homes. In that context, we have looked for another way, a way that is not quite as inflexible, a way that achieves the ultimate aim: we identify our significant trees; we put them on a register; and, once registered, it allows a degree of certainty in relation to their future management.
Secondly, we will develop tree management precincts where we believe that our urban forest is at particular risk of degradation. And we will manage those tree management precincts to ensure that we limit the unnecessary loss of established trees and the consequent erosion of that particular forest.
In those tree management precincts there will be another species of tree, namely, the regulated tree, as opposed to the registered tree. Acknowledging that this is quite detailed, time-consuming work and that resources are tight and limited, it will take Environment ACT some time to do the necessary detailed audit that will allow us to identify all the trees that should be registered and become registered trees according to the register.
We are allowing a transition phase of two years, essentially, during which time we will designate all suburbs as tree management precincts until we get the work done. Progressively, of course, we will go from wholesale tree management precincts to a registration process.
We have also been very conscious of the need to ensure that the tree management regime meshes as seamlessly as possible with the plans, the work and the operations of ACTPLA, the planning authority. We have done that. Some of the amendments that I have proposed today go to those issues as well.
I look forward to debating some of the detail of that in the detail stage. There has been some significant comment made in the debate about issues going to disallowable or notifiable decisions or instruments and issues in relation to strict liability offences. The government has looked at the scrutiny of bills report in relation to that. The government has taken advice on appropriate responses in relation to strict liability. We concede on a couple of those; we maintain our position in relation to the vast majority.
In relation to some of the other proposed amendments, we believe they are unnecessary and do not add to the integrity of the overall package. The government will be opposing