For those who think that a tree register is now a done deal, then last night’s council meeting is a rude awakening. The sticking point, as it has always been, is the issue of whether or not there should be controls placed on private land.

In a series of claims intended to wrench at the heartstrings we had Magee, Sztrajt, Esakoff and Cade stating that they were against laws that applied to private land, or which enabled neighbours to nominate trees on another’s land. Other spurious arguments like emergency situations, costs for home owners, etc. were also brought up.

Interestingly, Hyams was silent. His eventual vote therefore becomes crucial. Four out of the nine councilors have now made it clear that they will not support a tree register which covers private land, or at best which permits anyone from nominating a tree not on their own land. All it will take for this latest attempt to enter the 21st century is one more councillor to vote it out!

Most of the above arguments revolved around ‘individual rights’ over properties. These councilors seem to have forgotten their previous mantras that council works for the best interests of the entire community! We had this with the Elsternwick structure plan, with the current fiasco of the Inkerman bike path, and many other issues.

The motion eventually passed unanimously with that old argument that more reports are still to be presented to council before a final decision is made. We will not be holding our breath that after at least 15 years of dithering there will be something to celebrate for residents who care about what is happening on private land.