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Canberra Today 8°/10° | Sunday, August 14, 2022 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

They paved paradise and put up a parking lot 

Gum trees at the Australian War Memorial awaiting the chainsaw. Photo: Paul Costigan

Trees and rabbits are the big issues in this past “Seven Days”, says columnist IAN MEIKLE.

TREES have haunted me this past week, since I read that the Australian War Memorial is poised to log 60 more trees to elbow room for its unpopular, half-billion-dollar expansion. 

As the city’s deciduous trees start to turn, after a summer of sun and soaking rain, I revel in the beauty they bring to Canberra every autumn.

Then came the never-ending ear-worm; Joni Mitchell’s 1970 hit “Big Yellow Taxi”, a song about the destruction of trees to make way for a parking lot in Hawaii.

Took all the trees, put ‘em in a tree museum,

Charged a dollar and a half just to see ‘em”. 

(That’s about $13.64 in today’s money.)

Reader Peter Sherman, of Aranda, wrote to say it would be an “absolute environmental and symbolic travesty” if the NCA approves the removal of every eucalyptus tree in front of the AWM.

“I feel that this latest outrageous, shameless proposal confirms that the AWM’s decision-makers are highly unsuitable custodians of this sacred site,” he fumed.

In a bristling column on “Canberra Matters” columnist Paul Costigan wrote:When Canberra city needs every piece of biodiversity and green infrastructure to deal with the coming climate crisis, how on earth did anyone at the War Memorial think it was okay to let the bulldozers loose on so many trees. In the end this could be 100 or more trees that will go.

“Included in this vandalism will be some very significant ones such as the massively beautiful ones to the west of the front to the memorial building.”

He got in touch with Stewart Mitchell, former head of Buildings and Services at the AWM.

“Stewart can tell you how much the staff used to put into the care and occasional replacement of their trees. They were important to the site and the staff were very conscious of their stewardship responsibilities,” Costigan says.

“Stewart and others have been gutted by this news. This is not the place they used to work for and were proud of what they achieved – the care of the Memorial’s trees.”

So that’s the NCA; now to the ACT government. 

Before October’s poll, then Liberal leader Alistair Coe offered up a million trees over 10 years to get our neglected, faltering urban forest back. Could he do it? Probably not, but it was worth a try and politically it drew into stark contrast a party prepared to plant and a government guilty of turning a blind eye on the massive loss of municipal trees.

The pillaging of the Yarralumla dog park saw 90 trees felled, which one learned local described as a planning mess from the first decision to turn an historic established wooded area into a dog park. 

Then came a letter to the editor this week from Florey readers Glenys and Phil Byrne with the depressing news that at least 75 mature trees (including clumps of eucalypts and sheoaks) along Moyes Crescent, Holt, between Flack and Starke streets were all marked up and ready for the chop.

But now they’re not, with City Services saying the planned removal of the trees was an “administrative error”.

The Byrnes also wrote that the recent “Temperature Check” report prepared by the Monash Climate Change Communication Research Hub indicates that, of all capital cities in Australia, between 2013 and 2020, Canberra experienced the greatest reduction in “green infrastructure” – ie trees, shrubs and other plants in forests, parks, waterways, wetlands and gardens. 

“According to this report, from 2013 to 2016 the area of Canberra covered by vegetation fell from more than 60 per cent to around one third,” the couple writes.

“What is the Green Wing of the government doing to change the bad old ways of the Barr government?” 

Don’t it always seem to go, 

That you don’t know what you’ve got, till it’s gone

They paved paradise and put up a parking lot…

That bloody song!

Kristy McBain in her latest electorate office window guise and her inspiration… Bugs Bunny?

HOW does the Member for Eden-Monaro expect to be taken seriously, wonders the Easter Grinch. First there was the jumbo photo of Kristy McBain in a gender-bending Father Christmas beard on the window of her Queanbeyan electorate office (that was still there in February). Now it’s Kristy looking more like Bugs than the Easter Bunny, replete with big, floppy ears and buck teeth. 

AND this straight-faced reportage from Friday’s lead story in “The Canberra Times”: “The Finance Department is also preparing advice for an investigation into the lewd offences against office furniture by male staffers.” 

Another cabinet problem, wonders my Weston snout.

Ian Meikle is the editor of “CityNews” and can be heard on the “CityNews Sunday Roast” news and interview program, 2CC, 9am-noon.


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Thank you,

Ian Meikle, editor

Ian Meikle

Ian Meikle

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