Page 2805 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 29 June 2010
remains cohesive. Past experiences provide valuable lessons when planning the treescape in Canberra’s new suburbs.
There is one other aspect that I neglected from the ACT government’s own website on this issue:
These trees are aging and reaching the end of their life simultaneously. They also need greater levels of maintenance to minimise risk to community and property.
That is the other aspect of this, of not going ahead and replacing these trees, of not investing in the renewal of this great community asset. There are all sorts of other flow-ons in relation to that lack of maintenance.
So we have here a stark example of priorities. Government is about making choices. It is about prioritising a limited pool of public funds for the maximum public good. And what this government has said in this budget is that there is more public good in spending $26 million extra on the arboretum than there is maintaining our street trees.
We have been canvassing widely in the community on this issue, and that is not the view of Canberrans. There are mixed views on the arboretum. Some people are dead against it; some people think it is not a bad thing; some people think it is a very good thing. We do not believe it is a priority. This has been canvassed through various online polls, through various vox pops and through our own consultation—and very, very few people say, “Yes, I would value the money going to the arboretum more than I would value the money going to my street trees.”
Lest we say, “Well, let’s just have both,” let us remember that this government are delivering massive deficits. Maybe if they were delivering massive surpluses in the next few years there might be the opportunity to have both. In a perfect world, there would be all sorts of wonderful things we would like to spend money on. But they are delivering deficits. So we should be looking for savings and we should be looking to put the dollar where it is most valued, where it is most important and where the community wants it. I am happy if people want to get up in this place and say that they have had an overwhelming community opinion that says: “Yes, this is a good use of taxpayers’ money. We should be stripping money from the street tree program and putting it into the arboretum.” But I have not heard that. I have not heard that, and we certainly do not buy that. We do not believe it and we do not support it. That is why we do not support this. That is why we will call on the government. We will be calling on the government tomorrow.
But there is the opportunity for the government to amend this line in the budget. It is up to the government to deliver this budget responsibly. They could do it right now, and I call on them to do it. I call on the Greens to insist that they do it—to insist that they renew our street tree program, ensure we have the streetscapes we deserve, at the expense of the arboretum, so we can be fiscally responsible and we can maintain the amenity that Canberrans deserve.
MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (9:11): (Second speaking period taken.) I want to congratulate Mr Seselja on the stand that he has taken in relation to street trees because it is sound policy that meets the needs of the people of the ACT.