Page 2803 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 29 June 2010

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other areas that would more than offset the money that is being ripped out of the street trees program.” So I say to the Greens: if you are serious about it, come and talk to us. We should be able to actually negotiate to get this money back into the budget, because there is more than a majority in the Assembly who, at least on the record, are now saying they do not support this. But I suspect that the Greens will end up supporting this ripping out of money for street trees.

So there is a decision to be made. We believe that it should not be this way. We believe that the money—for instance, the extra $26 million that is being put into the arboretum—would be far better utilised on street trees so that people get the kind of services and amenity that they expect and deserve. Luxury items like the arboretum are one thing. Some people support it; some people do not. But there are very few who would argue against having street trees, having the renewal of their street trees and the amenity, the aesthetics and all of the benefits that come from that program.

So there is a choice here for the Greens. Will they support this ripping out of $10 million on street trees? I suspect that in the end they will. We believe that money should be diverted. We believe there are a number of things that Canberrans value about our city—many wonderful things. We value the open space. We value, up until recently, the lack of congestion relative to other cities. Whilst we are still better off than many big cities, things, unfortunately, in that area have gone backwards over the last several years and are nowhere near as good as they were just three or four years ago.

We value our street trees, our street amenity and our streetscapes. That is something that is wonderful about Canberra, whether you go to the older suburbs with very old established trees in places like Braddon, Griffith, Forrest and Deakin, or indeed to the newer suburbs, particularly the suburbs of Tuggeranong, and see a lot of the eucalypts in places like Wanniassa and Kambah. You see casuarinas in parts. You can go to places like Fadden and Calwell, in Belconnen you can go to places like Aranda and Evatt, and in all of these suburbs, I think across the board, regardless of the shape of those suburbs, regardless of whether they are inner suburbs or outer suburbs, people value their street trees.

What we are seeing from this government and what we will see from this budget that will be voted for by the Labor Party and the Greens is a clear lack of priorities. They are saying that the money for the arboretum is more important than money for street trees. They are saying that they will rip $11 million out of our street tree program to put around $26 million extra over the next few years into the arboretum.

It is worth looking at what the ACT government says about the value of renewing Canberra’s urban forest. The ACT government, on its website, talks about renewing Canberra’s urban forest. It goes on to talk about open space being part of people’s daily lives in Canberra and about how wonderful it is:

The ACT Government is committed to ensuring Canberra’s urban forest is maintained and further enhanced through the Urban Forest Renewal Program.

It goes on:

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