"I think that I shall never see a billboard lovely as a tree; in fact unless the billboards fall I'll never see a tree at all." - Ogden Nash - Paul to SMH
It’s great that the Federal government finally acknowledges the value of trees, but how is it actually going to control, even influence, policy at State level?
Given the length of time trees take to mature, the first priority must surely be to preserve what we already have. The suburb of Frenchs Forest didn’t get its name by accident, but will soon have to be referred to the Geographical Names Board to have “Forest” removed, such is the environmental and social devastation being wreaked by the building of a new hospital, a 12-lane dual-level highway, and extensive development planned for the wider area around the hospital precinct. Already hectares of bush and countless birds and animals have been destroyed, and more is imminent. Businesses have already been evicted, and homes are next in line. The tragedy of it all is that the hospital is being built in what the government’s own “robust qualitative analysis” rated a poor third amongst the six locations considered. The ruin of the pleasant leafy suburb is thus totally unnecessary.
Not surprisingly, the Federal Liberal member for Warringah and one-time Prime Minister hasn’t uttered a peep in defence of the trees, nor of the residents, both human and non-human.
I hope Mr Turnbull’s aspirational words don’t turn out to be just that, ideals without any practical benefit.
With reference to Sean Nicholls’ piece this morning, the situation with the Northern Beaches Hospital is even more unjust than the examples he quotes, because the location of the hospital is perpetrated based on deceit.
The government’s own Development Options Business Case (page 30) states that the Frenchs Forest site ranked a distant third amongst the locations considered on the all-important qualitative and operational criteria. The cost of roading upgrades was put at $21.3 million, whereas the current published figure is $500 million. Contrary to the Health Infrastructure's claims, the Frenchs Forest site is neither geographically nor demographically central to the catchment area.
Ironically, the preferred site was the land associated with the Warringah Council offices in Dee Why, soon to be vacant if the proposed council boundary changes go through.
So the homes and businesses, the flora and fauna, the open green spaces and recreational areas, and the pleasant leafy character of the suburb, are all to be destroyed unnecessarily.
There aren't too many ways available for venting one's anger or frustration at some of the things happening in the world around us. One such escape valve is the good old Letter to the Editor, even if only a small proportion of them gets published. It is often well-nigh impossible to keep the discussion short enough for the newspapers. So rather that have them expire in some Editor's Trash bin, we'll preserve them for posterity here. Inevitably, though, some nuances will be lost for those unfamiliar with the background or the letter or article to which we are responding. But each is undoubtedly a miniature literary masterpiece, though you may find the themes become somewhat repetitive.