Page 4873 - Week 13 - Wednesday, 11 November 2009

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I will say a couple of words now that I am on my feet. We do understand the challenges. Those of us who have had some of the briefings and heard from the reference group understand that there are real challenges here. But I would just put one other issue into the mix. I think that there is a degree of hypocrisy here from the government. We heard Mr Stanhope talking about the difficulty they are facing, that they are downing tools because they are not sure of whether they will be kicked, as he puts it. I understand that concern, but we also hear regularly from householders needing or wanting to remove significant trees in their backyards which they deem to be dangerous or otherwise and often being knocked back. We hear of the difficulties that they are facing.

I would put it to the Assembly and to the government that I no more think that most householders are looking to kill trees in their backyards or remove significant trees for no particular reason than I believe that TAMS officers are desperate to go and kill trees willy-nilly. Most Canberrans would make that assessment based on a reasonable assessment. Sometimes it will be as a result of looking to extend a home; sometimes it will be a safety issue. We have heard of many instances where people are concerned about dropping branches and in some cases they have been knocked back.

If we are going to pursue that argument to its logical end, we do need to consider individuals. I simply do not accept that Canberrans are looking to get rid of the trees in their backyard for no good reason. Most of us value the trees in our backyards but occasionally there are very good reasons to remove trees, for safety reasons or otherwise. I put that on the record.

I would also say that this is a complex issue but it is understandable. We accept absolutely that there is genuine community concern about the removal of trees in the community. We will continue to consult widely. We are getting the feedback. We are meeting with people. We are hearing from concerned residents and we will continue to do that.

It is important that we debate these issues in the Assembly. We have no qualms with this being brought forward, but it is worth putting some of those additional facts on the record.

MS LE COUTEUR (Molonglo) (5.00), by leave: I thank Mr Seselja for his useful and very timely contribution to this debate. I move:

Omit “Omit paragraph (2), substitute”, substitute “Add (3)”.

The effect of my amendment would be basically to have the text of my original motion plus then the text of Mr Stanhope’s amendment—which I have no problems with. As I said, I have no problems with it at all. Then, as Mr Stanhope’s motion was amended by Mr Coe, it would also have the text of Mr Coe’s motion. If my amendment was passed, we would have a tripartisan motion because we would have the text of every single party in it. The text would possibly be repetitious but I do not think it would be contradictory. From that point of view, I think it would be an excellent thing to do to pass a tripartite motion. I commend my amendment to the house.

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