To suddenly turn a corner and see the raw stumps of several trees, slashed by Council from the fence-line of a town parking lot, seems to symbolise the sad state of Taree township.
A tree is shade, shelter, beauty, an environmental asset. Aged or ill people who look onto trees, fare better and feel calmer. Trees also soak up carbon dioxide, which helps to clean up the air we breathe, and also helps to mitigate climate change and stabilise soil.
There was no notice or warning that these trees were presenting a problem, though no doubt someone on Council will produce a reason for their destruction.
But this slash and burn, rip it down, let’s not pause and think of how we can make the town a more attractive place, or that a row of trees might have some benefit, is pretty typical of the non consultative, insensitive attitude towards a town that is dying on its feet.
Count the empty shops. Businesses are suffering, kids can’t find jobs, there is a continuing ICE and drug epidemic. Domestic violence, homelessness and crime are on the rise, partly due to money being needed for drugs.
Many of our children seem lost. There are too many third generations of families who are unemployed, have never held a job. Some kids, in such families, see government payouts as their right.
A twenty-something young girl refers to buying something “on pay day”. That is, the day she gets her Centrelink money. She has never held a job. The concept of having to show up for work, on time and prepared, day after day, week after week, where you try to save a little bit of your earnings where possible, seems an alien concept to many. Employers roll their eyes as they relate tales of young staff always late, who take sickies all the time and, on most Monday mornings, are so hung over they can’t drive on their P plates, as they wouldn’t pass a breath test.
Good apprenticeships are hard to land. Opportunities are getting fewer and fewer. TAFE courses, unless you’re on Centrelink, are expensive. No wonder young people are leaving town.
Some old hands suggest that re-introducing National Service might be good idea to teach discipline, commitment, respect.
Meanwhile single mums, pensioners and “the older generation” struggle to make ends meet.
The Base Hospital has no trauma or cath lab for emergency heart patients. And, it’s ugly. No landscaping was budgeted for in the grandiose scheme put forward by our dear leader. Perhaps while our State Member is throwing fistfuls of dollars around like a drunken sailor, he could buy a few trees instead of aiming for votes.
Taree appears to be a town without a soul. And yet look at its location. It has the asset of the river and a river frontage that’s under-utilised, a town pool that never should have been closed. Does that odd little bandstand and a few rows of seats ever get used?
Lovely Jacarandas mark the entrance from the south but, unlike Grafton, the theme is not carried through into the town.
Tamworth is re-inventing itself with a Council plan to transform the town and surrounds with trees. Developers will be encouraged or required to provide more trees as part of any new subdivision, and it’s suggested that council donate a new tree for every new resident. There are plans to plant trees at city gateways, existing residential areas, car parks and anywhere else where trees may benefit the community.
Every successful town and city knows that trees add value to retail areas, by making them more attractive places for shopping. Trees along streets and on private property increase property values, and they support flora and fauna habitats.
Maybe Council could hire a lot of unemployed, or work for the dole, young people to get out and dig holes and plant a lot of trees, supervised by a knowledgeable arborist. It’d be a start.