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The strategy looks at where Canberra and the region will be in the year 2021. It rightly identifies this region as one of the most important inland growth areas in Australia. It is an exciting plan put together by the Commonwealth, ACT and New South Wales governments and five local surrounding councils - Cooma-Monaro, Gunning, Queanbeyan, Yarrowlumla and Yass.
It deals with the issues our region will face in a planning context over the next generation - how best to allocate our resources, how to plan for future settlements and communities, how to provide infrastructure to those communities and how we manage cross-border cooperation. Such infrastructure issues as the fast train between Canberra and Sydney, water supply across the border and the development of the Canberra-Sydney corridor are just some of the infrastructure issues with which we must come to terms in the near future. The alternative is to put off decisions forever and suffer in the future from bungled growth and a wrecked environment. This Government will not be a party to that sort of indecisive behaviour.
The days of Canberra ending at the border are over. This Government will develop, in partnership with others in the region, a strategy which maximises the opportunities for business to grow, for communities to develop and for our natural environment to be preserved, even across the Territory's borders. We want to develop expectations among local communities that will see our region prosper, not wither. A generation from now, when our children are seeking work opportunities and starting their own families, we want to say that the strategies we put in place moulded the shape of an exciting and responsibly planned environment. A generation from now, projections are that half of Canberra's urban population will live in New South Wales. That means taking a serious responsibility for, and interest in, regional planning issues, even if they are across the border. This region will offer a unique blend of city, town and country living in the carefully preserved environment which is the hallmark of the bush capital and which creates varied opportunities and lifestyles for well over half a million people.
Our plan is that the region will offer prosperity and growth within an integrated planning framework guided by principles which will allow for growth while preserving our natural environment for future generations to the greatest possible extent. In order to do that, we need to focus our planning decisions on what is best for the region into the next generation, not just in the lead-up to the next election. That aim, while ambitious, is what makes this Government different to the previous Labor Government. We want to see a Canberra which all Canberrans can say preserves the best of what our environment offers, while growing and creating new opportunities for all of us. That is what we call the question of balance.
Many of us remember back to the days before self-government, when just the NCDC held sway over the way Canberra was planned. That body developed numerous plans and policies for the future development of Canberra, but these plans did not take account of what would happen to Canberra's planning regime under self-government. In my view, a major problem with Canberra's planning system is the need to have two different plans and planning systems. Since self-government, Canberra has had to develop a plan for its Commonwealth-related functions and a separate plan for its own development as a city