Canberra and regional neighbours should join forces, Chief Minister tells COAG

Released 13/04/2012

ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher MLA will today reveal plans to partner with neighbouring councils to boost collective buying power and leveraging Canberra's economic strengths to get a better deal for ratepayers across the region.

The Chief Minister will today, present a case study in trans-border cooperation, telling the nation's leaders at the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting that Canberra's role as a regional centre will increasingly be a priority for the city.

"While we have always played an important role in the region we now need to concentrate on our regional future as a real priority," the Chief Minister said.

"I believe there is potential for using our significant collective regional scale to get greater value for the ratepayer dollars we individually spend on our separate service-related contracts and separate procurement processes.

"Imagine some of the efficiencies and cost benefits that could be achieved for the region with Canberra acting in partnership with our regional neighbours and not just as smaller individual jurisdictions.  

"Whether it be joint infrastructure projects, bulk purchase of our tyres for the trucks that service our roads, or nappies and medical supplies for our hospitals, the buying power of a region with Canberra in the mix is surely worth exploring.

"Bringing Canberra to the regional table at our first South East Regional Organisation of Councils meeting in two weeks' time is a great step to progressing the work many of our neighbours have started already.  I'd like to explore the possibilities further and I will seek SEROC's agreement to progress this work urgently," the Chief Minister said.

The Chief Minister said, in addition to its roles as national capital and home to 360,000 people, Canberra played an important role as a the economic and social hub of south-east New South Wales.

"Cross-border communities need to work collaboratively to get maximum bang for their buck — via agreed infrastructure investment requirements, good data collection, even joint submissions to competitive funding programs," the Chief Minister said

"Value for investment will be crucial as this region's population grows. By 2031 Canberra's population of 360,000 will be closer to 460,000. The combined population of the 17 regional councils will reach 750,000.

"Inevitably, the ACT's long-term planning has to include the region.  Increasingly I believe we must speak with a 'regional' voice — as 600,000 Australians, rather than as individual communities separated by distance and divided by state borders.

"Building up our region, supporting well-planned services and infrastructure and looking for efficiencies in the way we work regardless of what part of South-East NSW we live in will benefit all of us in the long term," the Chief Minister concluded.

- Statement ends -

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