Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 11 Hansard (Thursday, 22 September 2005) . . Page.. 3599 ..
I have written to a lot of people, a lot of groups, and there is a fair amount of overlap with the consultation that I have done and the consultation the government has done. Today Mr Stanhope rattled off a list of all those people, but not everybody who responded responded favourably. There is a lot of criticism of this across the board. When the average homeowner realises the implications of this legislation, there will be increased criticism. That is why we are opposed to this version of tree protection.
I want to put on the record now that the Liberal Party is in favour of tree protection. I also want to put on the record that, when we come to government in 2008, we will repeal this legislation and replace it with rational tree protection that looks after important trees, trees that are on the register because of their cultural significance, their heritage significance, their scientific significance, and the landscapes in which they are. These are the things that we will continue to maintain and support, irrespective of whether they are on leased or unleased land.
We will take away the draconian provisions that make every large tree that grows in someone’s backyard subject to decisions by the government on what will happen. As a representative of the Housing Industry Association so rightly said on radio yesterday, this 12-metre rule will mean that people will start to denude their blocks when their trees reach 10 or 11 metres. That is the exact opposite of what this bill sets out to do. People will not let their trees get to 12 metres because then they will be subject to a whole lot of rules and regulations imposed by the government that will not allow them to undertake proper development of their blocks.
The government’s intentions are wrongheaded. We will end up with less urban amenity and less urban forest than we currently have. That is why the opposition opposes this legislation. This is bad legislation. It is not a bad idea, but its manifestation here is bad. I will put it on the record again. We are in favour of tree protection. We are not in favour of this version. We will repeal this legislation and we will replace it with coherent tree legislation that is to the benefit of all Canberrans.
MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment and Minister for Arts, Heritage and Indigenous Affairs, and Acting Minister for Education and Training) (5.19): Despite the weasel words of the shadow environment minister today, the Liberal Party walks away from tree protection in the ACT. The record will show that. They are today prepared to completely abandon the notion of protection of significant trees within the ACT.
Nothing that Mrs Dunne says can change the fact that today they walk away from tree protection. They abandon it completely. It is now part of their platform, to the point that Mrs Dunne is reduced to relying on comments of the Housing Industry Association to support her position. As if the Housing Industry Association does not have more than just a touch of a vested interest in knocking down trees in the interests of development! When it comes to a choice between profit and trees, I think the philosophy of the Housing Industry Association will be for profit every time.
I heard the comments of the Housing Industry Association spokesperson and I have to say I found them totally unconvincing. Goodness me! Trees get in the way of development; the trees have to go. There is no consideration of the importance of trees to