Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2012 Week 5 Hansard (1 May) . . Page.. 1694..
MS PORTER: My question is to the Chief Minister. Chief Minister, you recently made presentations to COAG on working across boundaries. Can you advise the Assembly of the steps you have taken to enhance our regional relationships and their importance to the ACT economy?
MS GALLAGHER: I thank Ms Porter for the question. At last month's COAG meeting I was able to give a brief presentation to fellow heads of government in relation to some of the work that we have done here in looking at our cross-border relations. It was a really good opportunity to talk about some of the foundations that we have been putting in place, and particularly about our vision for Canberra as the economic and service heart of south-east New South Wales.
Whilst a number of Australian cities that are located on or near state borders live with trans-border challenges, I do not believe that there are any that are quite in the same position we find ourselves in—entirely surrounded by a bigger jurisdiction in every direction, and so closely bound up in the fortunes and lives of those who surround us. Twenty thousand people drive in to the ACT every day for work. Many of them bring their children to attend our schools. A quarter of the people in the hospitals are from New South Wales and a third of those on our elective waiting lists.
In the 100 years since our establishment we have grown into a city of more than 365,000 inhabitants, but in terms of tertiary health and, to a lesser extent, education and other services, we effectively service a regional population of more than 600,000—and it is growing.
Canberra's role as the economic, population and service heart of this region creates significant cross-border challenges, but I believe that it presents opportunities as well. Ensuring we have the appropriate engagement mechanisms with the New South Wales state government and with surrounding councils is vital if we are to meet the challenges and, again, seize those opportunities.
Last December the New South Wales Premier and I signed an MOU for regional collaboration. This MOU ushers in a new era of regional engagement for both of our governments, building on but crucially bolstering the work done under the previous regional management framework. Importantly, there is now a shared vision on how our jurisdictions would like to see the greater capital region progress and flourish in the decades ahead, and the MOU is the vehicle that will allow us to identify opportunities for that development.
The MOU focuses on three initial priorities: a strategic regional directions statement; a shared view of planning and infrastructure requirements expressed through a strategic land use and infrastructure plan, including a mechanism to ascertain and apportion costs of infrastructure to each jurisdiction; and an integrated service planning framework that initially looks at health and education.
In relation to the first area, a strategic regional directions statement, the federal government, through the department of regional Australia, has provided funding