The Fig Tree Embassy
Newcastle’s Fig Tree Embassy is a community protest action against Newcastle Council’s decision to remove Laman Street’s majestic giant figs on the pretext that they are a traffic hazard.
The council is using a loophole in the NSW Roads Act to get rid of the trees, to avoid going through normal planning processes.
For the past two years, the council has run a scare campaign about the trees, claiming they are so risky that they are likely to fall over.
Time and tempest have proved otherwise.
External experts have identified crucial flaws in the council’s risk assessments of the trees, but the council has repeatedly refused to have these reviewed by independent external experts.
On Thursday 25 August, councillors voted (6-5) to refuse to put their risk assessment work to an independent external determination.
Instead, at enormous expense to ratepayers, they are sending in the chainsaws to remove what their own studies acknowledge to be a heritage item.
Councillors are meant to be the custodians of our community assets, not their greatest threat.
Where our elected representatives refuse to stand up for the community’s interests, the community must act.
The councillors who voted to kill the trees were:
Graham Boyd (Independent), Aaron Buman (Independent), Shayne Connell (Independent), Bob Cook (Independent), Brad Luke (Liberal), Mike Jackson (Independent/Liberal), Scott Sharpe (Independent)
The councillors who voted to save the trees were:
Sharon Claydon (Labor), Tim Crakanthorp (Labor), Michael Osborne (Greens), John Tate (Independent).
Mike King (Independent) and Nuatali Nelmes (Labor) were absent from the 25 August meeting.