UPDATED 5 pm: A statement from the NSW Government appears to contradict the Chief Minister’s comments this afternoon that the border move at Parkwood would definitely go ahead.
Mr Perrottet was contacted for comment this morning. In a response this afternoon, a spokesperson for the NSW Government said no decision had yet been made.
“The NSW Government is committed to supporting a common sense approach to the delivery of key services and infrastructure for future residents of the Parkwood cross-border development,” the spokesperson said.
“To this end, the NSW Premier has approved discussions to take place with the ACT government on a potential border move at Parkwood.”
UPDATED 2:45 pm: Chief Minister Andrew Barr has confirmed the border of the Territory will change for the first time in more than 110 years.
The move will allow the ACT to take a parcel of NSW near West Belconnen so the suburb of Parkwood can be built in the ACT.
Mr Barr told reporters this afternoon that NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet had provided him a verbal “tick of approval” for the border move.
“There’s no opposition to this. It’s going to happen. So we are just now going through the steps legally to make it safe,” he said.
Mr Barr said his understanding was the NSW constitution would not need to be adjusted to accommodate moving the border.
The meetings between Territory and NSW officials – slated to commence in the coming weeks – would be about working through these legislative details, he said.
Development in Parkwood is not expected to begin until 2032.
The Chief Minister said he was surprised by the level of interest in the Territory’s border move.
“I view it as just correcting a historic anomaly,” he said.
“It’s really a historical quirk that a straight line was drawn through the paddock rather than the river corridor which is where the Territory border followed for most of the Western edge.”
The Parkwood site cannot be accessed from the NSW side of the border.
A spokesperson for Yass Valley Council said they had engaged in discussions with the Territory government about the challenges of servicing the Parkwood development due to the geography.
“Council resolved in 2017 to consider the feasibility of moving the NSW-ACT border, and the Chief Minister confirmed in 2019 that a border shift was the ACT’s preferred position. Council welcomes Premier Perrottet commencing discussions regarding the potential border relocation and we look forward to being a part of the discussion and negotiations with both the NSW and the ACT Government,” they said.
12 pm: The long-talked-about proposal to shift the ACT’s border has once again returned to the joint agenda of the Territory and NSW governments, with NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet giving his “in-principle” support to the plan.
Mr Perrottet agreed last month that discussions to move the Territory’s border to incorporate a small parcel of the larger state can recommence, a response to a question on notice from budget estimates hearings confirmed.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the process of shifting the border was expected to take some time, but there was plenty of that given the planning did not show development hitting the Territory’s current border until 2032.
Mr Barr confirmed he had spoken directly with Mr Perrottet.
The move to acquire NSW land to form the suburb of Parkwood in the Ginninderry development in West Belconnen has long been on the Territory government’s agenda.
Ginninderry is a joint venture between the government and a subsidiary of Corkhill Brothers, Riverview Projects.
Parkwood is the name of the 5000-home suburb to be built on what is currently the NSW side of the border and could be home to as many as 13,500 residents.
Development on that suburb is not slated to commence until 2032 when work on the Territory’s side of the border is complete. Under a master plan approved by the NSW Government in 2020, it is not likely to be finished until 2055.
The project is expected to cost $1.89 billion.
In December last year, the ACT Government purchased two blocks of land in the Yass Valley adjacent to Ginninderry. The Suburban Land Agency said at the time it had plans to purchase more blocks.
Mr Barr wrote to Mr Perrottet in October last year to restart talks about moving the border. He received a response from officials in the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet on 30 August 2022 giving it the green light.
Officials from the Chief Minister’s office are now working with the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet on the matter, with meetings likely to commence next month. Mr Barr said the purpose of these will be to settle a “joint approach to support joint advice to governments”.
An Auditor-General’s report, released in July this year, was critical of the speed at which the government was planning services for the cross-border part of the Ginninderry project.
It found continuing uncertainty about the border posed several risks to the Territory that the government should be doing more to manage.
“The continuing uncertainty about the prospects of moving the border and the cost implications for the Territory increases the risks associated with this option and its cost-effectiveness for the ACT,” Auditor-General Michael Harris said.
“There is a need for forward planning to reduce and manage these uncertainties.”
The report also highlighted a need for the Territory government to develop a strategy for negotiations with the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet and the Commonwealth so a border change could eventually happen.
“This would also assist with identifying the critical timeframes and challenges for the Territory in relation to the service delivery model for Parkwood, should the border-move negotiations not succeed, and Parkwood remains in NSW,” the report said.
Serious questions remain as to how services – especially water – will be delivered if the border talks stall, the Auditor-General found.