Page 924 - Week 03 - Thursday, 28 February 2013
the regional opportunities that come. We are in a unique relationship here. Where the region is strong, it is good for Canberra; where Canberra is strong, it is good for the region. I think the select committee will provide an important opportunity for those who live in the region and for interested stakeholders in Canberra to put forward their ideas about things such as economic development, such as the issues around the transport, how we plan for service delivery, who does what across the region—acknowledging that not all the councils and, indeed, even the regional New South Wales services—can provide the range and level of service that the ACT can, and how that works.
Of course, the issue of costs will invariably come up and the committee will be able to look at a cost-benefit analysis. Obviously we want this to be a two-way relationship, not just one where the ACT community provide all the services and do not get any benefit. I do not think that is the case and I do not think, from my discussions with the New South Wales Premier, the New South Wales health minister, the local member, John Barilaro, and the local councils, the mayors, that that is the intention. Everyone would like their own area of jurisdiction to be thriving. I think it is fair to say that local councils are feeling pretty stretched at the moment. They do not have a lot of money; neither do the New South Wales government and the ACT government. It really is incumbent upon us to work out better ways to deliver services to the community and also to look at future opportunities to invest in the region and how that potentially could benefit both people in the ACT and people who live around our borders.
I think this is largely a non-controversial committee. The terms of reference as I have outlined them are in the motion. We would have two members nominated by the government and two by the opposition—that is in line with the way committees have been established during this term of the Assembly—and the committee should report in September this year. It is a big job and it is open to the committee to have a look at that timetable once it is established. My hope would be that it would report within this calendar year so that we can look at the recommendations and if there are any that we can progress we get on and do that within this term of government. I commend the motion to the Assembly.
MR HANSON (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (10.46): I indicate at the outset that the opposition will be supporting the establishment of this committee, but I do want to make a few points. We recognise the importance of regional engagement. We are a commercial, educational and service hub for the area, but the area also provides us with diversity and support. Although we are an island in New South Wales, we are not isolated from it. From roads and transport, taxes and charges, housing and employment, health and education, we share a joint future. In short, we are much stronger and better serviced when we work together than when we go it alone.
I make the point that regional engagement should be the normal role of government. While we will be supporting the motion, it really should have been the business of government for the last 12 years, and it has not been. Throughout the last term, in opposition, my colleagues have been working with their local counterparts in New South Wales on concepts, ideas and consultations. In the last Liberal government here under Kate Carnell, Liberal governments had regular meetings with local mayors and leaders. Kate Carnell set up the regional leaders forum, which met quarterly.