Tuesday, 5 September 2017
Questions to the President
Parliament House: Security
I seek leave to make a short personal statement.
At home in Melbourne we are fighting a losing battle to save 200 precious trees on our fabled St Kilda Boulevard, and it seems now the destructive tree-chopping disease must be in the air, because we returned here to Canberra yesterday to be greeted at the Parliament House Senate entrance security gate by a scene of destruction. While we were all away from the capital, authority was apparently granted for three majestic gum trees to be chopped down. Not a single protesting tree-hugger was in sight—not even a Greens senator. Mr President, I presume this was authorised. How many more will go? What is the rationale for the removal of traditional gums, which I assume were planted for the opening of this parliament 30 years ago? I chaired a crossbench meeting this morning, and no senators present had any idea this was going to happen. I'm wondering if somebody can fill us in.
There are two options. This is something you could ask at question time or the end of question time. If the chamber is so of a mind for me to answer that now, I can give you a brief explanation now. It is a part of the security fence works. The trees primarily were removed for security fence purposes. Secondly, some of those trees were at end of life. Some trees have been interfering with the underground works—sewerage and electricity, I believe. Also, some of the trees had been incorrectly planted contrary to the original design; they're too big for the areas. And some are dangerous. In fact, I believe one actually crashed into the outside wall of a senator's office in high winds earlier this year. I believe 20 in total are going to be removed or have been removed already. Once the new fence goes through, they will be replaced with shrubs either side. I can give you further detail about that if you want to see me privately as well, Senator Hinch.
I presume it's safe for us to return to business. I thank Senator Ketter for his indulgence.