Page 603 - Week 02 - Thursday, 14 February 2013

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Distinguished visitor

MADAM SPEAKER: Before we proceed, I would like to draw members’ attention to the presence in the gallery of a former deputy chief minister, Mr Quinlan. Welcome to the Assembly.

Questions without notice

Regional development

MS BERRY: My question is to the Chief Minister in her role as Minister for Regional Development. Minister, you are attending a meeting of the South East Regional Organisation of Councils tomorrow. Can you inform the Assembly of the importance of the ACT’s participation in this forum and other forums that promote greater cooperation in our region?

MS GALLAGHER: I thank Ms Berry for the question and for her interest in matters around regional development. Tomorrow I will be attending the South East Regional Organisation of Councils, or SEROC, meeting in Yass. I have taken the view since becoming Chief Minister that we have to work closer with our councils that surround Canberra, the C+1 councils. I think there is a recognition certainly from the ACT government that we must work together in the interests of our entire population. I do not think that people who live in Queanbeyan necessarily see the line on the map when they cross into the ACT, nor people from the ACT moving outside.

The area of south-east New South Wales is one of the fastest growing regions in Australia. I think a lot of our own economic future and that of the region can be better developed if we do it in a coordinated way. So we did join SEROC, I think about 12 months ago. Now that we are a full member of the organisation, which includes 12 local governments around the ACT, it means that we can attend those meetings and discuss future opportunities with the local mayors.

This work, of course, runs alongside the work we are doing with the New South Wales government through the MOU for cross-border arrangements, which is progressing well. I think it is certainly in areas like health that we are seeing the fruits of that agreement. Tomorrow morning I will be meeting with the mayors of Palerang, Goulburn and Yass prior to the meeting starting at 9 o’clock. The items that we have on the agenda to discuss are economic development opportunities, planning and development, water and sewerage services, health, traffic and bus priority services, and the Centenary of Canberra.

I think that certainly since we have joined SEROC the mayors have been really pleased that the largest population base within the region is actually actively engaging in the discussions around the table. But we do not see ourselves as better than them, but we want to see all of us as equal players with a shared interest in this region’s future. That is the agenda that I will be working on with the mayors. I think there are some great opportunities for us and I look forward to the meeting and, indeed, to reporting back to the Assembly, because I know, particularly Mr Coe, how interested you will be in it.

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