Page 889 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 20 March 2012

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MS GALLAGHER: I thank Ms Le Couteur for the question. As members would be aware, the government did provide significant resources to the urban tree replacement program, I think three budgets ago. When it became clear there was not consensus around how that program was to be implemented, some money was returned to the budget. In the last budget we provided additional allocation to the urban tree renewal program—not quite as much as was originally returned to the budget.

There is currently, as Ms Le Couteur would imagine, and based on the Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment’s report, consideration around this matter within budget cabinet.

MR SPEAKER: Ms Le Couteur, a supplementary question.

MS LE COUTEUR: Minister, do you intend to fulfil the recommendation of the Commissioner for the Environment for an additional $4 million per year and an extra $1 million for the first year and, if not, how do you intend to meet the needs of Canberra’s urban forest program?

MS GALLAGHER: That matter is currently before budget cabinet. We have provided our response to the Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment’s report. There were a number of priority recommendations and then sub-recommendations. We are working through all of the resourcing of that and, alongside of that, the other pressures of budget within TAMS. We will see the outcomes of those discussions when the budget is tabled. It is very much part of our discussions. I am aware that we need to look at resourcing for this program, how we look after new trees and our established urban forests, and indeed deal with the dead trees as part of the urban forest. So I am very aware of it. We are currently working through the detail of it through budget cabinet.

MS HUNTER: Supplementary.

MR SPEAKER: Yes, Ms Hunter.

MS HUNTER: Minister, have you reconvened the urban tree expert reference group which former minister Mr Stanhope disbanded, and are they being consulted about how to best roll out the current program?

MS GALLAGHER: I have not reconstituted that group. I imagine that TAMS, as part of their working through these priority areas and the resourcing that is required, are consulting with interested stakeholders, but I can certainly find some more information out about that.

MS BRESNAN: Supplementary?

MR SPEAKER: Yes, Ms Bresnan.

MS BRESNAN: Minister, noting the present wet weather conditions that would assist in planting new trees, what is the government doing to take advantage of these conditions and not defer plantings to dry years?

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