Bridging borders

Ross Bartley and Pewter Petty at the historic Wallangarra Railway Station. 112456_01

ROADS, waste management, tourism, emergency management and resourcing could all benefit cross-border residents after an historic meeting between Southern Downs and Tenterfield Shire councils.
The councils signed a Memorandum of Understanding in September and last week met at Wallangarra to strengthen the alliance with a strategic plan for action.
SDRC Deputy Mayor Ross Bartley and Tenterfield Shire Mayor Peter Petty said the first meeting asked councillors from both regions to agree on a vision, guiding principles and a list of strategic outcomes.
Cr Bartley said everyone agreed the alliance should not be a “document that sits on a shelf”.
“The alliance needs to have real goals and real outcomes and the top priority we all agree on is funding for the upgrade of the Mt Lindesay Highway,” he said.
Cr Petty said the alliance agreed to organise a meeting as soon as possible in the new year with both council mayors, senior bureaucrats and parliamentarians Barnaby Joyce, Bruce Scott, Kevin Hogan and Warren Truss.
“We will be reminding government representatives that promises were made for funding and we need to secure this as soon as possible,” he said.
Cr Bartley described the first alliance meeting as very productive. He said it was a chance to combine lobbying efforts in relation to issues which affect the broader community.
Cr Petty said the first meeting had “just touched the surface” and both councils would work together on more strategic actions.
“Both councils feel there is much to be gained in a formalised cross-border relationship – we will be a powerful lobby group and we will be able to secure funding and resources benefiting Southern Downs and Tenterfield.
“It is written into the MOU that we will meet with Department of Local Government Director General, the Division of Local Government NSW Chief Executive and Cross Border Commissioners from both states at least annually to discuss the outcomes achieved and areas where further development might occur,” he said.
Significantly the two councils met at the historic Wallangarra Railway Station, a testament to non-cooperation across the border.
The Queensland and NSW governments of the day could not even agree on architectural features, with different awnings on each side of the station.

Plan for progress
THE meeting of the two councils resolved that a number of initiatives would benefit both regions including
– Investigating regional waste management opportunities.
– Joint lobbying of Regional Development Organisations on beneficial projects.
– Sharing information for lobbying opportunities (visits from MPs etc).
– Investigating regional synergies for tourism.
– Encouraging tourism personnel (including Visitor Information Centre staff and volunteers) from both regions to work together.
– Co-ordination of emergency services contact points.

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