Regulated Trees

15 Feb 2012 archivespeech

This speech aims to get the regulations under the Development Act 1993 concerning regulated trees, made on 17 November 2011 and laid on the table of this council on 22 November 2011 disallowed.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (16:28): I move:

That the regulations under the Development Act 1993 concerning regulated trees, made on 17 November 2011 and laid on the table of this council on 22 November 2011, be disallowed.

I have spoken several times on this particular issue, so I will not repeat all those remarks but just provide an update to members as to the process of regulated trees. We have had the bill, which became an act, and then the regulations. We have a DPA on which, coincidentally, the public meeting consultation is this evening at the Grosvenor at 7pm, and I commend all honourable members to attend, as I will be, and to listen intently to the submissions made by a number of organisations. Since the regulations came into effect the DPA has also been promulgated and, while they are separate instruments, the policy changes are complementary, and therefore the DPA is also germane to this discussion.

Several stakeholders and I met a number of times over the Christmas break, most notably Mr David Lawry OAM of TREENET, the National Trust, a representative from the LGA at one of the meetings, the South Australian Association of Arborists, and Dr Bob Such, who has a long-standing interest in the protection of trees and who is, indeed, a board member of TREENET. We met to discuss what the issues were that we wanted to raise with the government, and a meeting took place a couple of weeks ago. I was not able to attend because there were only a couple of business days' notice and I had to be in the country; however, I understand Dr Bob Such did a terrific job leading a delegation and putting those concerns to the minister.

A number of the issues those stakeholders discussed were: whether councils should be able to nominate their own species for inclusion within their own development plans; the 10-metre rule, which means that any tree within 10 metres of a dwelling or a pool can be removed; the 20-metre rule, which applies in bushfire areas; whether trees should have their own register of culturally significant trees; dead trees, which do provide some habitat; the list of exemptions for trees (that is, the hit list of anything that can be removed because of its species and the list of things that cannot be removed because of their species); the amount to be paid into the tree fund; and the bushfire zone.

Dr Bob Such made a written submission to the minister, and I think some of those issues were relatively well received. We have also had public commentary from the planning department saying that there may be some alterations to the laws that need to be made, and those are positive signs. I would like to see the colour of the government's money before I withdraw this disallowance motion—

An honourable member: The whites of their eyes.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: The whites of their eyes, my colleague interjects. It is out of order; nevertheless, it is worth including. Since the laws came into effect on 17 November I think a number of councils, and indeed community groups, have been outraged at the level of activity taking place with chainsaws throughout the metropolitan area. I think there is good reason for concern that a number of trees will now be removed because these new laws are incredibly developer friendly—they would say they are not quite friendly enough. My colleague the Hon. David Ridgway and I met with them, and I think there are some issues on which we will agree to disagree.

A number of organisations have made submissions, and I would be interested to see what they have to say in writing. However, they include the Conservation Council, Save Our Suburbs, St Peter's Residents' Association, and the Blackwood/Belair and District Community Association, just to name a few who have made submissions. Issues that each of those organisations have raised are very similar to those I have placed on record before and which the coalition of TREENET and so forth made submissions on as well. We did have the incident at The Avenues Shopping Centre on Australia Day, and I note that the former premier, who likes to consider himself some sort of environmental warrior, has been complaining about those. The great irony is that those trees would not have been able to be removed were it not for the decisions of his government, so I find it somewhat hypocritical that he makes any protest at all about that taking place. I think he changes his tune, depending on who he thinks is listening.

The Hon. D.W. Ridgway: No, surely not.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: My colleagues interject again that they are shocked. I do hope in good faith that the new Minister for Planning will take on board a number of these concerns and not just in some sort of tokenistic 'meet us part way'. I have moved this motion again because I think it is a very important issue for the amenity of the metropolitan area to retain a lot of our significant trees and, indeed, for the habitat that they provide.

Professor Chris Daniels, who is very well versed in the habitat within our urban environs, advises that there is not much of it left and that some of the most significant habitat resides within people's backyards. I think it is worth bearing in mind that if we want to continue to see birds, butterflies, lizards and so forth, we need to protect the trees as well. With those comments, I commend the motion to the house.

Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. J.M. Gazzola.