Legislative Council

GREENS BILL: Significant & Regulated Trees Bill passes Upper House

November 1st, 2017

On the 1st of November, Mark's Planning, Development and Infrastructure (Regulated Trees) Amendment Bill 2017 was taken through it's final stages and passed in the Legislative Council.

The following is a copy of the Hansard transcript -

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I rise to make some comments in relation to this bill, brought to this place by the Hon. Mark Parnell. I note that in his contribution he referred to the origins of it as arising from the very unsatisfactory situation at the Glenside site, where the developer removed some 83 trees from that site, against the wishes of the local community.

For the record, and just to back up the story a little bit, if you like, the Liberal Party has remained opposed to the chosen government development for the Glenside site. We believe very strongly that the remaining open space would continue to be valuable to people with mental health problems, particularly those suffering from acute problems who would benefit from the green space and positive impact that would have on their healing. That has been our long stated, oftentimes repeated position in relation to that. Nevertheless, we were unable to prevent that from happening.

This particular matter was raised at the Environment, Resources and Development Committee of the parliament in February, at which we had several witnesses, including the member for Unley, who now represents that area, who again articulated that it was the Liberal Party's position that we were opposed to it and that we were concerned that the trees were to be removed. In terms of the sequence of events, the member for Unley expressed particular concern that the development plans were to remove the trees prior to the particular development that was to replace them having been properly articulated. His argument, if you like, was that perhaps it should be done in stages so that the local community could continue to enjoy the benefit of the significant and regulated trees that were there.

What the proponent of this bill is putting to us, if I read it correctly, and he will no doubt correct me if I have not got this correct, is that in order for significant and regulated trees to be removed the particular development must be articulated for that site, which we think is a sensible proposal and therefore we will be supporting this particular measure.

The Hon. J.E. HANSON: This issue has been the subject of considerable debate and the government believes we have the balance right as it stands, so we will not be supporting this particular bill.

The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: To sum up the debate, let me say at the outset that I suggested to the Leader of the Government that unless we had the government position on the record I would have no choice but to divide on the matter because I would not know where the numbers lie. Then I was pleasantly surprised by the contribution of the Hon. Michelle Lensink, whose summary of the situation was, I think, quite accurate and whose support of the bill I appreciate.

I am not going to go back over all the grounds, but basically the bill is saying that if you are going to consider chopping down significant trees—the Hon. Michelle Lensink used the word 'stages', and that is a good way of talking about it, stages—do not allow that to happen until you know exactly what is going to replace them. That is the Glenside situation. Over 80 significant and regulated trees were not only approved to be chopped down but are now actually chopped down—I was there a week or so ago and they are gone—but there has not even been an application lodged to build anything on the site in their place.

That is a colossally inefficient way to do things. The worst case scenario is that if the bottom falls out of the apartment market or, for whatever reason, that development does not go ahead, then those trees have been lost in vain. The Hon. Michelle Lensink understands that, and that is why I am pleased she has supported the bill.

Effectively the government's position is that they do not like it. There are no reasons offered other than they think they have the balance right. I do not think they have the balance right, because my bill does not say that the trees cannot be chopped down, it just says that there needs to be a good reason to chop them down and that reason is because there is something to replace them. Of course there is an exception if they are dangerous, of course they have to go if they are dangerous. The Hon. Dennis Hood and I do not always agree on trees, but I will agree with him on that: if the tree is dangerous it is going, if it is going to fall on people it is gone. However, the idea of chopping them down and then maybe, one day in the future, lodging a development application for buildings is an incredibly silly way to proceed.

Whilst I indicated to the government that I would have to divide, I am now in a difficult position because I do not know where the rest of the crossbench lies on this. I think I might have the numbers, that is just my gut reaction, and, as members know, it is a fairly safe course of action given that the government is not going to support it in the lower house and so they are offering to support it now. That is a good thing, so we will proceed with this bill tonight and I am hoping that it will pass on the voices.

I thank the Hon. Michelle Lensink for her contribution and for her party's support. I am disappointed that the government will not see fit to support it.

Bill read a second time.

Committee Stage

Bill taken through committee without amendment.

Third Reading

The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: I move:

That this bill be now read a third time.

Bill read a third time and passed.

For more information see a copy of Mark's second reading speech and the Bill

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