Monday, January 23, 2006

Tree frenzy?

As I said here yesterday: "Don't we have great law? Head-butt a tourist in New Zealand and break his nose, and you get 'community service.' Sleep with a thirteen-year-old and you get 'community service.' But do something really serious, like cut down a tree on your own land or smoke some marijuana, and it's jail, jail, jail. Surely something wrong here, huh?"

Jump cut now to last week's Herald, to a story that never had the legs to make a genuine Media Frenzy:
HERALD: Developer facing angry community for pohutukawa destruction
A developer who ordered the destruction of a giant pohutukawa tree may be forced to face a community furious about his crime. George Bernard Shaw pleaded guilty in the Auckland District Court to a charge of destroying the 100-year-old protected tree...

The charge is punishable by a fine of up to $200,000 or two years in prison, but Judge Fred McElrea deferred sentencing until February 13 for restorative justice. That process is likely to include a meeting at the Maungakiekie Community Board with those directly affected by the cutting down of the tree.
It's important thing to point out here that:
  1. the Herald's headline contains at least one piece of pure speculation: the claim for an "angry community" is at this stage completely unproven;
  2. the present District Plan's protection of native trees (ie., attempt to nationalise the district's trees) means that development sites with native trees are worth less than those without, and that native trees are seen a a financial disvalue rather than a boon -- such is the unintended consequence of the legal blunt instrument of 'protection';
  3. this wasn't just "a" pohutukawa tree, it was Mr Shaw's pohutukawa tree, for cutting down which he's already paid $50,000 to "demonstrate remorse." Given what happened to land-owner Andrew Borrett in similar circumstances, what's the bet that the February 13th sentencing sees Mr Shaw get a stiffer sentence than either the paedophile, or the headbutter.
The "restorative justice" meeting at which residents will be able to "express their feelings about the matter" (God, it's all so dripping wet, isn't it?), is to be held on Wednesday 25th, 6pm, at the Onehuga Community Centre. Blogger Duncan Bayne will be there, and he's already got a speech planned. Maybe you should join him, and help to reduce Mr Shaw's sentence.

Links: Developer facing angry community for pohutukawa destruction - Herald
Developer charged - Duncan Bayne

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