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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 05 Hansard (Thursday, 24 August 1995) . . Page.. 1441 ..

Commonwealth governments, is working to develop a region which is not only world competitive but also able to use its resources in a more effective way. The very diversity of our geography and industry creates a base on which the south-east region can build to make us all prosperous in terms of economic wealth, employment growth and a sustainable quality of life. To achieve this, governments, business, unions and the wider community must work together. We have taken up the challenge.

Earlier this month the Chief Minister hosted a regional leaders forum. The forum was attended by the mayors from the local councils in the region, the Chief Minister and me, as well as the chairmen of the South East Regional Development Council and the Canberra Region Campaign. A number of pressing matters and areas of mutual interest and cooperation were discussed at the meeting, all of which relate to our vision for the region. For example, it was agreed to urge the New South Wales Government to support the proposal for a rescue helicopter service to be based in Canberra to service the entire south-east region. My colleague Mr Humphries made that a reality yesterday.

Members will be aware that, like a number of ACT government services, the ACT hospital system provides significant services to the surrounding community. This creates opportunities for cooperation and integration of the regional services to achieve a high-quality health system that makes sensible use of the limited resources available to the ACT and New South Wales governments. The ACT and New South Wales governments will be establishing an ACT and New South Wales cross-border health committee to examine the feasibility of sharing some resources to provide better health services. This committee will also seek to identify issues affecting access to health services; identify funding arrangements to meet community needs; minimise cost shifting across the border; as well as making recommendations on further administrative, planning and services provision arrangements.

Mr Speaker, tourism is an industry sector which is common across the region. Canberra Tourism has been working with all the regional tourism associations to coordinate the promotion of our region. The meeting discussed opportunities to further develop the cooperative arrangements, including linking events and region-wide promotional material. The recent “Spring Fling” promotion is a good example of how we are working together to promote the wider region and to make the best use of our limited resources in doing so.

The meeting of regional leaders also provided the opportunity to discuss the management of our natural resources, primarily water use and reuse. The ACT Government sought support for a feasibility study of future water use in the ACT subregion, specifically examining the potential for sharing water and, within the entire region, sharing water management technology and expertise. I am pleased to report that the meeting gave in-principle support for the ACT Government to conduct a three-month feasibility study on water supply options for the region which will involve consultations with ACT government agencies, ACTEW and New South Wales, Commonwealth and local governments.

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