Council removes same-sex marriage messages from Springwood tree

Chalk messages now.
Chalk messages now.

The messages spontaneously and randomly appeared: Overnight the tree in Springwood’s town square had become the “Love Tree’, decorated with messages about same-sex marriage.

Love tree: In the centre of Springwood the tree had been decorated with messages about same-sex marriage. Council staff removed them.

Love tree: In the centre of Springwood the tree had been decorated with messages about same-sex marriage. Council staff removed them.

Written on cardboard squares or love hearts or wedding-gift shapes, they contained messages about how to vote in the same-sex marriage plebiscite.

There were also messages written on paddle pop sticks stuck into the soil around the tree.

Both yes and no sides were represented.

But within a few days, the messages had been taken down and the paddle pop sticks unearthed.

A letter-writer last week wondered who had dismantled the tree’s messages, prompting the Gazette to ask council.

And a spokeswoman confirmed the material had been removed by staff “as it was an unauthorised activity in a public place”.

She said council had received two complaints about the material in the “love tree”. She added it had been removed because it was unauthorised “irrespective of the nature of the material or messages”.

When the Gazette asked what council would do if someone applied to use the tree (or any other tree) for similar activities, the spokeswoman said: “The use of the tree in Springwood town square to publicly display material would be considered by council as part of the standard processes by which people can apply to use this public space – either a town square booking form (for small scale activity) or an event application (for a larger scale activity).

“Consideration would be given to such things as the weight of objects, how they can be attached to the tree and public liability insurance etc, in the interest of public safety.”

For a week the square remained message-free, with the exception of Springwood retiree, Cameron Phillips, the no campaigner who is there most lunch times.

Then last weekend, chalk activists took over, leaving their “yes” messages written all over the footpath.

“Don’t deny my right to love”, “Love sees no gender”, “Love will always win”, “Love is a terrible thing to hate”, “Love lives here”, “I voted yes – did you” and “Peace love & glitter” accompanied by a peace sign now surround the tree. Someone has even drawn a little rainbow.