Opinion

Street trees need some TLC

by
April 12, 2018

: We’ve a municipal CBD problem with a number of recently-planted plane street tree.

Where is Sidney when we want him?

Sidney who, you ask? Sidney Arbor of course — the tree doctor, the bloke who ‘harbours’ all sorts of remedies for ailing saplings, native or exotic.

Why do we want Sid? W have a municipal central business district problem with a number of plane street trees (Platanus Acerifolia) planted six months ago.

Take another geek at the picture and you’ll see there’s a problem with this middle-of-the-road specimen.

It’s got no upper canopy but it’s sporting heaps of unwanted verdant lower-trunk growth.

That’s a massive problem and an expensive regression in the quest for a greener city.

Expensive because my guestimate is that advanced bagged replacement product in-situ would have cost in excess of $350 and at least another $450 for stump-grubbing, site-excavation, soil, planting labour, staking, wire-guarding and ongoing contract watering — and there’s about another dozen or so in similar straits.

Not wanting to pre-empt Sid’s expert assessment we could be looking at the upper ‘branches’ being basically dead (lack of water while stored at the council depot, six weeks, awaiting planting?) with the prolific lower growth being the tree’s survival technique.

Who knows? That’s for Sidney.

●What speech-making habit irritates you the most?

For me it differs depending on the ‘office’ of the person making the speech — whether the speaker is in a representative role, like an elected parliamentarian, footy club president, an appointed chairperson at a public meeting, as against, on the other hand, a specialist guest lecturing on the breeding habits of the Mongolian pole-vaulting tadpole.

The second group comprises mostly ‘experts’ — people espousing a personal opinion, sharing their expert knowledge. They can say what they like in my book — we’ll determine the worth of their spiel mainly on their interesting content and to a lesser degree on their delivery.

The first group, with some exceptions, are ‘representatives’. Politicians talk on behalf of their political party, or hopefully, at least, now and again, on behalf of their constituents.

Club presidents speak on behalf of their committee, players and supporters. The public meeting chairperson adjudicates in an unbiased way on behalf of the body of attendees.

As we lead up to the November Victorian elections, let’s hone in on candidates’ pitches and what might annoy us about each of their delivery styles. You’ll have your own likes and dislikes about the contents — many know already how they’re going to vote.

My pet irritation centres on, what was made universal by Sir Humphrey Appleby of Yes Minister fame — the dreaded ‘perpendicular pronoun’. What’s that you ask?

Well, it’s a sort of slang way of referring to the egotistic overuse of the first person pronoun ‘I’ — made famous by Sir Humphrey.

This is the cute way of referring to the pronoun ‘I’ which in its spelling is nothing but a line perpendicular to the line of text.

Repetitively used in speeches from elected or candidate hopefuls, it is, to my mind, highly nauseating, boring and bordering on the egotistically repulsive.

We don’t want to eradicate all our perpendicular pronoun usage — just use some discretion when speaking or writing in a representative vein, please.

Another irritation is the non-differentiation between fact and opinion but that could be difficult to canvass without confusion, after canning ‘I think’.

●Ever actually been to a council meeting? More particularly have you ever been to a Greater Shepparton City Council meeting?

Most constituents haven’t, as generally, unless there’s an agenda item that’s contentious, the public gallery is left to a mere handful of regulars and a similar number of staff.

Why so few? Maybe the 5.30pm time is inconvenient to some. Maybe there’s a general lack of interest and the proceedings can be watched in real time or later online.

Perhaps there’s an unjustified ‘them and us’ impression — what difference can my attendance make in issue outcomes?

One point of difference in that impression could be Public Question time — particularly if that sparsely-patronised segment was made more inclusive and answers given by elected practitioners. A lead-time cut-off of eight days doesn’t help either.

Anyway council is publicly reviewing its meeting procedures and until April 27 you can have input.

‘‘Any person may make a written submission on the proposed Local Law to Council. All submissions received will be considered in accordance with section 223 of the Local Government Act 1989.’’

This could be your last opportunity for up to 10 years. Join me — there’s a couple of issues interesting me and you could make me feel less lonely.

Shepparton’s John Gray has vast experience in local government, urban water reform and natural resource management.

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