Page 353 - Week 01 - Thursday, 16 February 2012

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Mr Seselja can try and shift the blame on everyone and point and try and make it into a political campaign, but this is not an issue of our making. Let us just remember that, Mr Seselja. The other members in this place that do not sit on the opposition benches did not create this. We did not create this in order to make it uncomfortable for you. You had an issue. You mismanaged it. You have provided information to the Assembly today that raises more questions than it answers and the audit is the responsible and reasonable way forward. I do not think it should be a political witch-hunt; it should not be. But what we need to do as an Assembly is make sure that taxpayer funds have been used appropriately in accordance with the purpose for which they were provided.

Not only does today’s statement implicate Mr Seselja’s office but also it implicates every member of the Liberal Party, because they all understood the arrangements that are ongoing with their community outreach model of staffing under the LA(MS) Act. Every single one of you knew what was going on. At the end of the day, it might be entirely appropriate—and we look forward to the provision of all the records that prove that—but it is a very interesting new line of defence, I have to say. We look forward to scrutinising Mr Seselja’s statement and allowing the audit process to proceed.

Urban forest

Paper and statement by minister

MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Chief Minister, Minister for Health and Minister for Territory and Municipal Services): For the information of members, I present the following paper:

Commissioner for the Environment Act—Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment—Report on the Investigation into the Government’s tree management practices and the renewal of Canberra’s urban forest—Government response.

I seek leave to make a statement in relation to the paper.

Leave granted.

MS GALLAGHER: I am pleased to table the government’s response to the report from the Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment into the government’s tree management practices and the enhanced program of urban forest renewal. In December 2009, the commissioner was asked to undertake this investigation. This directive arose following community disquiet about some tree management practices and the proposed urban forest renewal program for trees on public land.

Trees in Canberra are an emotive issue, and a significant amount of time and effort has been invested in the report by the commissioner, the community and the government. The government manages the largest and one of the most diverse urban forests in Australia, comprising 700,000 trees in streets, parks and open spaces, including 300 different varieties.

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