A SPAT has broken out between Bateman Labor MP Kim Giddens and some Melville councillors, who say she unfairly painted the City as the villain when 62 street trees in Applecross were threatened by road widening.
Ms Giddens organised a petition in March to “save the verge trees” along Sleat, Forbes and Kintail roads – including their iconic jacarandas – and posted a letter she’d sent to Melville mayor George Gear calling for his “urgent attention to this matter”.
But that got the dander up of Melville councillor Nick Pazolli, who says the trees were only put at risk because of state government department Main Roads’ plans to construct a new Canning Bridge and Bus port. The department had instructed the council to include the road widening in the Canning Bridge Activity Centre Plan.
“The problem is Ms Giddens set up the survey implying that the threat to the trees was subject to the control of the City of Melville,” Cr Pazolli said.
“The point is, concerns should be directed to the state government, not the council.”
“The petition was generated as a political manoeuvre. It is a good local issue for a new MLA. If you wanted to look like you’re doing something in a traditionally non-Labor seat, where else would you look?”
It prompted Cr Pazolli to put forward a motion to the last council meeting supporting the retention of the trees, but also pointing out how they came to be under threat; it received unanimous support from his colleagues.
Meanwhile Ms Giddens, whose petition has now hit more than 1660 signatures, claimed a “community win” when planning minister Rita Saffioti asked her departments to rethink the need to widen the streets.
But Cr Pazolli labelled the announcement an “own goal” for Ms Giddens, as the same night he moved his motion Ms Saffioti confirmed responsibility lay with her government.
He believes the trees are a distraction from the main issue.
“The state government’s ‘trench solution’ to divide Canning Bridge will impact the access to public transport for Mt Pleasant residents as well as putting the trees at risk,” he said.
“The ‘tunnel solution’ we are promoting will preserve the trees and not impact residents.”
Ms Giddens was contacted for comment, but didn’t get back to the Herald before its deadline.
by THOMAS MORKELL