Page 433 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 13 February 2013

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Going back to the cork oaks for a couple of minutes, the site for the arboretum encompasses “Green Hills” to the north, where the historic plantations of cork oaks and Himalayan cedars provided forests as a framework for the young arboretum. The cork oak plantation was listed on the register of the national estate in 1981 and on the sites of significance register.

Cork oak has a special place in Canberra’s tree history. Commercial cork was formerly an essential component of life jackets, fishing nets and insulation equipment as well as having its traditional role for corks in bottles. Cork oaks were planted around early district properties, and corks dangling from the brims of the hats of jackaroos and swagmen typify outback Australia. It is great to see that cork oak plantation continue. Cork oak is essentially fire tolerant; the tree produces little litter in its plantations, the bark provides excellent heat protection for the trunk and the foliage is relatively inflammable. Walter Burley Griffin recognised the potential of the cork oak for Canberra’s dry climate and in 1916 sent a supply of acorns to Yarralumla Nursery for trial by Charles Weston. These were sourced from the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne and planted in October 1917 in that “Green Hills” area which is now known as the cork oak reserve.

Let me conclude. We have talked quite a bit about the arboretum. While the beauty of the arboretum is already apparent, its full magnificence will be realised only in the decades to come as these forests mature. I would like to congratulate all those involved in bringing this project to fruition, particularly the former Chief Minister, Jon Stanhope, on his unwavering commitment to the project. Canberrans will thank him for his vision in the years and generations to come.

MR HANSON (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (10.18): I thank Mr Gentleman for bringing this motion on today. I certainly know more about cork oak than I probably anticipated learning about, and many other trees that Mr Gentleman talked about.

The arboretum is an interesting dilemma, but ultimately it is there. There has been disagreement from the Canberra Liberals, for very good reason, over the building of the arboretum. But the reality is that we now have an arboretum. So the question is: what then is the position of the Canberra Liberals on the arboretum? It is that we remain committed to the decision that we had, that it was the wrong decision to be made by government, and I will go to those reasons shortly.

But recognising that the arboretum is there, recognising that it does have potential, recognising that in time it will be a great asset for the city, the Canberra Liberals will not be wreckers; the Canberra Liberals will not be standing in the way of the arboretum. What we will now be doing is supporting it because it is there and what we will be doing is making sure that the potential that it does have is realised through good, efficient and effective management and making sure that its value as a tourism asset is maximised.

Clearly, the reality is that politics is about priorities and politics is about decisions that have to be made. Often they are judgement calls and they are difficult. There are

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