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Statement by Local Government Association

10 May 2012

In 2009, the Local Government Association endorsed the establishment of an Independent Inquiry to look into Local Government management of trees on public land due to concerns about the extended drought and climatic effects on trees under Council care and control.

Preliminary work was done on stablishing the Terms of Reference for the Inquiry and sourcing the membership of the Inquiry panel.

In March 2010, the Independent Inquiry into the Management of Trees on Public Land, was established and was chaired by Mr Brian Cunningham. This followed the unfortunate incident that resulted in the death of Rebecca Jolly, which served to focus greater attention on the Inquiry.

Following extensive consultation with Councils and key public stakeholders the Report, containing 20 recommendations, was delivered by the Inquiry in December 2010.

All Councils are aware of the recommendations contained in the Report by the Independent Inquiry and many have already changed practices to address the management of trees on public land, particularly in light of changes in climatic conditions.

Since that time the LGA and the Local Government Mutual Liability Scheme have been developing strategies for Councils to address the recommendations in the Report.

Much work has been done to collate and disseminate information from Councils about tree management practices to develop a sector-wide strategy which is currently in a draft form.

The LGA has been conscious not to pre-empt the Coroner's findings in our response to the Trees Inquiry but we have not held up providing supporting information to Councils. We will now assess the Coroner's findings before we formally respond to the Trees Inquiry.

The LGA is pleased that the Coroner recognised the process of review into tree management and the considerable body of work by the Independent Review into the Management of Trees on Public Land that was undertaken at the request of the LGA and the efforts being undertaken by individual Councils to review management procedures.

It is anticipated that, once the Coroner's findings have been examined in detail, draft strategies will be released for consultation with the Local Government sector in June.

Our thoughts have been with Ms Jolly's family.

The Coroner has recognised the challenges in dealing with trees in urban environments and we hope that both the Coroner's report into Ms Jolly's death and the Independent Inquiry will maintain attention on the best ways of tackling these challenges.

For further information contact: Media Liaison Officer Mary Ann Stenberg 0428 860 274

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