Over 2.1 million Australian live within a NSW border region and 620,000 NSW residents live, work and do business on the NSW side of these three borders.
People and businesses in border communities can face longstanding issues due to the regulatory, legislative and policy gaps and duplication that occurs because of different approaches to policy and service delivery between neighbouring jurisdictions.
Figure 1: local government areas in NSW and neighbouring states and territories that are considered border communities and are impacted by the issues frequently faced by border residents.
Recent achievements on longstanding issues:
The Office provided a written submission to the NSW Upper House inquiry into child protection, resulting in a specific recommendation to address cross-border information-sharing issues. In February 2019, the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Regulation 2012 was amended to include interstate community services agencies as prescribed bodies, enabling them to share information with interstate counterparts.
Cross-border tourism linkages have significantly improved, contributing to positive employment opportunities and outcomes prior to the impact of COVID-19. The Office has contributed to border regions plans such as the NSW Visitor Economy Industry Action Plan which includes cross-border opportunities in the tourism industry; destination management plans for the North Coast, Southern NSW and Riverina Murray regions which all point to opportunities for collaboration with neighbouring jurisdictions; and the Future Transport Strategy 2056 which notes that the Canberra and Gold Coast airports are two of three global gateways for tourism and trade for NSW.
Development of Regional Economic Development Strategies (REDS) based on the concept of a Functional Economic Region (FER) in 2018. The Office of the Cross-Border Commissioner worked with local councils to identify FERs that extend across state of territory boundaries, noting the extensive economic and social linkages in border communities. This helped ensure clear economic development strategies for each region.
Reducing regulatory burden and red tape for border businesses by improving information sharing arrangements between government agencies, and developing proposals between the Australian, NSW and Victorian governments, to simplify business reporting through the Premier’s Priority to ‘tell government once’.
Enabling employment mobility through recognition in NSW of Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) accreditations issued in neighbouring jurisdictions. This necessitated the development of a low cost online bridging course for applicants and changes to Victorian RSA training to allow Victorian RSA holders to be eligible for a NSW certificate of competency.
NSW Cross-Border Commissioner’s Infrastructure Fund, launched in May 2018, drives infrastructure investment and generates economic and social benefits for border communities in NSW and neighbouring jurisdictions. The Fund supports social, economic, environmental and cultural infrastructure in border areas through targeted investment and co-investment from the neighbouring jurisdiction, enabling investment in these communities that might not otherwise occur because of multi-jurisdictional benefits.
Future Transport Strategy 2056 (future.transport.nsw.gov.au), the vision for the next 40 years of transport in NSW, supported the creation of borderless transport systems, requiring policy and investment alignment between jurisdictions.
Trialling a single ticketing bus system in Albury-Wodonga, as recommended by IPART, and to extend concessions for NSW students travelling interstate so they can attend training and education. This is now a key area of focus for the Albury Wodonga Regional Deal and the NSW-Queensland cross-border agreement.
NSW Government funding to develop options for the extension of the light rail from the Gold Coast Airport to Tweed Heads via Coolangatta.
Development of a new planning protocol to improve service delivery across borders in new communities. As a result of work with the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, planning for major developments such as Ginninderry in the Yass Valley Local Government Area, and at Cobaki near Tweed Heads has already benefited from this change.
The NSW Cross Border Commissioner identified issues in the NSW Government Guide to Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA) that disadvantaged border communities by limiting funding opportunities. The new guidelines stipulate that when NSW Government proposals generate costs or benefits in neighbouring Australian jurisdictions, the CBA should report both, which will better inform decision making.
Provided input into the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) Review into Rural and Regional Bus Fares in relation to cross-border ticketing, timetabling, concessions and pricing issues, resulting in several significant recommendations.
Established and led a whole of government Border Closure Communications Working Group to improve engagement and communication on the travel restrictions impacting border communities during the NSW-Victorian border closures from July to November 2020.
NSW Strategic Plan for Children and Young People (www.acyp.nsw.gov.au/plan-consultations) was created with consideration of neighbouring jurisdictions and noted opportunities to align legislation, regulation and policies to ensure greater efficacy of government and non-government programs designed for children and young people in border areas.
Emergency services co-operation including:
The development of the Single Point of Truth (SPOT) trial through the ACT–NSW Emergency Services Cross-Border Working Group
enhanced information exchange through the Interjurisdictional Police Cross-Border Working Group
inclusion of interstate emergency services in Regional Emergency Management Committees in all border regions
revision of Memoranda of Understanding between NSW and Queensland emergency services
enhancement of the Tri-State Emergency Management Conference between NSW, Queensland and South Australia
in partnership with the Victorian Cross Border Commissioner, advised regional recovery committees, combat agencies, NSW and Victoria Police, the Australian Defence Force, and the Victorian Emergency Management Commissioner and Inspector General of Emergency Management on critical cross border issues related to the 2019-20 summer bushfires.
appeared as a witness in the Commonwealth’s Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements providing evidence leading to recommendations on how government should work better together to prepare, prevent, respond and recover from national emergencies. Evidence was also provided to the NSW Independent expert inquiry into the 2019-20 bushfire season.
Access to education and training in NSW and neighbouring jurisdictions has improved through work with Training Services NSW. This work helps trainees and apprentices who live, train and work in border areas to access the services needed to complete their training. Work continues to improve access to a skilled workforce through mutual recognition of occupational licences, and simplification of business reporting.
Aligning program delivery between NSW TAFE – Albury Campus, and Wodonga TAFE.
Procedures for assisted school transport schemes were revised, allowing border residents requiring travel assistance to get to school in the ACT, Victoria and Queensland.