Albury Wodonga merger begins to gather pace
In March, Premiers Bob Carr and Steve Bracks announced that Albury and Wodonga would be merged as the one municipality. This decision resulted from an historic joint meeting of the NSW and Victorian Cabinets marking the 150th anniversary of the establishment of the two states with the Murray River as the border.
“Creating the one City of Albury Wodonga will attract more jobs and investment,” Bob Carr said. “It will also go a long way to stopping those illogical and unfair cross border anomalies that have frustrated families for 150 years.”
Steve Bracks said that the amalgamation of the two cities would remove many of the remaining artificial barriers and divisions faced by businesses and residents.
“For many years governments on both sides of the border have talked about this but no one has ever taken the simple step of developing a plan to see that it actually happens,” Bob Carr said.
An Inter Government Working Group has been established to develop the plan for a united City. Members of the Working Group include the following.
- Prue Digby, Executive Director Local Government, Department of Infrastructure (Vic)
- Neil Shepherd, Director General, Cabinet Office (NSW)
- Garry Payne, Director General, Department of Local Government (NSW)
- Kevin Love, Director Policy and Infrastructure Branch, Department of Premier & Cabinet (Vic)
- Peter Marshall, CEO, City of Wodonga
- Mark Henderson, General Manager, City of Albury.
The Working Group will consider constitutional and legal aspects of the merger; State Government service delivery issues; and community consultation. It is scheduled to present its report to both Governments by early June.
Greg Walsh has been appointed as a project consultant to assist the Working Group in identifying options and analysing costings.
From June 2001, an extensive community consultation process, coordinated by former Deputy Prime Minister Ian Sinclair, will commence. This will cover various aspects of the proposed new City, from the locations of the Council headquarters to the electoral system and delivery of services.
As a former senior Government Minister, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Chairman of the Constitutional Convention and NSW Drug Summit, Ian Sinclair brings extensive experience to this position.
Neil Armstrong has also been appointed as Community Liaison Director ensuring the community has a regular contact point during the process. He has extensive Local Government experience as a Councillor, General Manager and, most recently, as CEO of Local Government Professionals (Vic).
The first Newsletter, Albury Wodonga ‘One City – One Future’, states, “It is an exciting and historic time for Albury and Wodonga. Both Governments will ensure the local residents and businesses have a key role in shaping the new City’s future.”