David McLennan July 27, 2012
A re-elected ACT Labor government would make working with nearby councils a higher priority, and create a new portfolio of regional development, ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher says.
Ms Gallagher, who will take on the role herself, announced the new portfolio at an ACT Property Council lunch yesterday.
''We must start planning, thinking and delivering services as a region, and if we get it right, it will bring significant benefits to us and our regional neighbours,'' she said.
There was an opportunity for the ACT government and surrounding councils to use their ''collective muscle'' and buying power to get better value on investments and services, ''regardless of the jurisdictional borders that divide us on the map''.
''In many ways those lines on the map are of little practical importance for people who cross them every day, the 20,000 people who come into the ACT to work each day, or the 6000 people who travel in the opposite direction,'' she said.
''But those lines are mightily important when it comes to fairly sharing the cost of service delivery, and the cost of infrastructure. They are also mightily important when planning for the future knowing where future demand is coming from.''
Ms Gallagher said she had already made some practical steps towards the greater regional focus, joining the local regional council group and by signing a cross border memorandum of understanding with NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell.
ACT Opposition Leader Zed Seselja said working with the region was a good thing.
''I think one of the reasons we need to is because people are being forced over the border because housing is too expensive here in Canberra.
''That has facilitated the growth in our region, and that has been a real problem,'' he said.