9 October 2020

Stop the exodus to NSW - just move the border

| Ian Bushnell
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Googong, the township that should be in Canberra. Photo: Geoff Comfort.

Canberra Liberals leader Alistair Coe is right. Googong should be ours.

Hell, why not Queanbeyan too, for that matter?

Mr Coe believes the ACT is short about $400 million because of a line on a map nobody takes any notice of.

Those 7,000 Googonians – see they don’t even call themselves New South Welshmen, and women – should be paying their rates into ACT coffers.

It would mean a bigger pie and bigger slice for everybody.

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Chief Minister Andrew Barr would call it pie-in-the-sky economics but he’s just miffed that Mr Coe has stated the obvious about the border bleeding us dry.

All the marketing for Googong always says it’s only 16 km from Parliament House, most of them cross the border to work, if somebody breaks a leg it’s off to Canberra Hospital, and while schools are being built, you can bet your old school tie quite a few are doing their learning at Canberra’s finest.

Then there is Queanbeyan, even Murrumbateman, Yass and Bungendore.

They’re all sucking the juice out of the big lime green capital.

The solution is obvious.

Just as Rome pulled its satellites into orbit and absorbed them, much to the delight of citizens yearning for order and baths, Canberra should reach out to our neighbours and start applying the pressure.

Emissaries should be sent off to Sydney, or at least a Zoom meeting arranged, to open border negotiations with NSW. Gladys has got a lot on her plate at the moment so it’s the perfect time to make the approach, and Barra is on leave.

She could solve several problems at once by ceding Queanbeyan at least to the ACT, and why not throw in the rest just to sweeten the deal?

In any case, the NSW Government doesn’t care much about anyone outside of Sydney.

And the Feds? Well, Mr Coe, Alistair, says Scomo has his back on this, so moving the line a little further east and north shouldn’t be an issue.

Think of the rivers of gold flowing into the ACT Revenue Office, the rates rebates hitting your bank account, and struggle town being rebadged ‘Howard’.

Then the residents could be fondly called ‘Howard’s battlers’. In a very equitable, non-discriminatory, inclusive kind of way.

They can’t wait to be part of the most progressive patch of dirt in the country and take a celebratory spin around the rainbow roundabout.

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All a bit fanciful?

Well, ask yourself this: where did the Canberra Raiders start? Queanbeyan!

Where are the best vineyards? Over there. But who drinks their wine? We do!

What will make the trip to the coast shorter? Moving the border!

Bring it in Q, and the rest. Get with the strength.

Alistair will welcome you with open arms … and a tree.

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There is one thing you have totally missed the mark on. One of the biggest appeals of moving to Googong was getting out of the grips of the horrifically mismanaged ACT Government, and I say this as a life long Labor voter, including in ACT elections. Sorry, but no, we DON’T want to be part of the ACT. Oh, and we are happy with Queanbeyan hospital, and the local NSW schools too.

ChrisinTurner2:37 pm 16 Oct 20

The other serious alternative is for the Commonwealth to keep the Parliamentary Triangle and hand the rest back to NSW. I am always reminded of this when visiting NSW country towns that are always neat and tidy and well planned and managed.

ChrisinTurner2:32 pm 16 Oct 20

The Liberals don’t seem to understand that if these people lived in the ACT, instead of NSW, then the ACT would have to provide their schools, police, hospitals, roads, public transport, street-sweeping, grass-cutting etc. We can’t afford these things now!

Fact check:

NSW pays the ACT to provide regional hospital services.

We live in NSW because we choose to pay our city Councillors councillor wages not politicians salaries

Joe Humphries7:32 pm 10 Oct 20

It’s all about grabbing a bigger rates base, not about how the people of those areas feel about it.

Illyria Tyers5:14 pm 10 Oct 20

Even as satire that was a bit silly.

It’s not a good idea. It would be seen as a colonialist style invasion of New South Wales. It’s better to fix the issues that cause people to move to NSW, such as lack of house and land availability, the opening of places like Coree, Stromlo, Paddys River, Kenny, Uriarra etc. for development to facilitate land releases and development, as well as changing leasehold real estate policy to freehold, and scrapping building height restrictions.

rationalobserver10:19 am 10 Oct 20

The ACT is a very inefficient converter of revenue to outcomes.
Buy adding to the ACT constituent base all you are doing is increasing the overall deficit.
Abolish the ACT Government, and grow the National Capital Authority.

I am a Rabbit™2:16 pm 10 Oct 20

I think the rest of the nation might have something to say about that. They already fund most of the jobs here through their taxes – the least people could expect is that Canberrans pay their own way for local administration rather than expect national taxpayers to pick up that bill too…

True but most of that stems from economies of scale which would be minimised if the population base were to be expanded.

The other option which I’ve suggested elsewhere is get rid of all states and territories and move some state functions to larger councils and move some state functions (hospitals, emergency services, schools in particular) to the federal government.

Queanbeyanite8:14 pm 09 Oct 20

No way, we’d have to help pay off the $6 billion tram network. Once they’ve run out of parks to build more shoeboxes they’ll be looking over the border. It should have been abolished in 1990 when they voted in the No Self Government Party and rolled in to NSW then. If that had happened we’d have had a railway station at the Jolimont and lots of rural hamlets all the way from Cooma to Goulburn.

Yeah QBN wouldn’t want any more shoe boxes would it?

HiddenDragon7:03 pm 09 Oct 20

The thought of Gladys arranging a lateral arabesque for Barilaro is amusing, but why the people of Queanbeyan and thereabouts would want to go from living in a marginal electorate, which Premiers and Prime Ministers can’t (completely) ignore, to federal electorates which both major parties treat with thinly veiled contempt – because of the utterly predictable voting patterns of the ACT – is beyond me.

In the longer run, the fiscal unsustainability of the ACT (which an extra 50-100k residents from NSW wouldn’t fix) is more likely to see the current governance arrangements for the ACT replaced by a city council, with the state-level functions handled by NSW. That would likely require amendment of s.125 of the Constitution to delete the provision that the seat of government “shall contain an area of not less than one hundred square miles”, but it’s hard to imagine that the 98% of Australian voters who don’t live in the ACT would have a problem with that.

I am a Rabbit™2:20 pm 10 Oct 20

The rest of the nation would absolutely have issues with the capital and seat of power being in New South Wales borders. It would be a massive boost for groups in Queensland and Western Australia who want to secede from the Commonwealth. The Federal Government would never allow the concept to even be voiced.

It would make far more sense to just dissolve ACT into NSW.

COVID has highlighted why it would make even more sense abolishing the states and territories altogether.

Spot on, the states should be dissolved, with larger council areas replacing them and 2 tiers of government remaining.

Never happen though, it’s too sensible.

“Never happen though, it’s too sensible.” Would never happen though, because it is effectively asking nations to give up their sovereignty. That is, after all, the definition of federation and commonwealth.
Turning Australia into a large single nation state with a municipal level of governance does look attractive though.

ACT will have to move all its noise boundaries and the Industrial facilities away to the new border which they now just throw as near NSW as they can.
Hypothetically, if one were to consider the prospect of giving away their land under the crown lease, the thought of loosing QPRC, NSW governance scares me off.
I cant fathom my kids being under the ACT education system. There is a reason those schools are Canberras (underlined) finest.
Is there a reason we have these facilities and proposed/planned infrastructure in Googong, Jerra and Queanbeyan?
If this is how it is when the NSW government doesn’t care? I would like to see what happens if they were to, so lets get their attention our way.
we can also consider for a moment the revenue QPRC and NSW government will loose as reward for being a good role model.
I do worry about the attention that this region is getting now, with more attention comes more congestion.

West Belconnen is not a locality. It’s part of Belconnen (hence the West at the start). Belconnen has both a pool and a theatre. And a cinema.

Every time.

Assume you are replying to Vanessa Jones. Not sure if you have noticed her posts but they are always about how poorly west belco has it, ignoring the obvious that you correctly pointed out that West Belconnen is part of Belconnen and all the services she carries on about are to be found somewhere in Belconnen.

Yeah. Hence the last line. The Kostigan of Kippax.

Monique Neejchee Jenkins11:26 am 09 Oct 20

Makes sense from a rates and services perspective, but because it’s a state to territory thing it wouldn’t be viable. Good luck convincing people who currently own the land they live on that they now have to swap to 99 year leases. Got front fences? Take them down. Cheaper rates and car registration? Nope, we’ll bleed you dry like every other Canberran. People buy over the border because they have more control for less ongoing expense. They’re not going to give that up.

Rates in Googong are more expensive than Canberra. Car registration once you factor in the separated cost for CTP insurance isn’t much different and what do you actually think the difference is between a 99 year lease and freehold? If the Government really wants your land in NSW for some sort of infrastructure project they can compulsory acquire anyway ?????

Whilst the article is somewhat tongue in cheek, the issue of rates is very salient. There is a cross border agreement where NSW pays ACT for providing some services – particularly healthcare – to NSW residents living nearby. What this actual sum is and how it is actually calculated is somewhat obscure (unlike the NSW agreements with Vic and Qld which can be found online). Has this amount been renegotiated/recalculated since all the new housing developments (like Googong) have popped up near the border? The ACT funds it services largely through the rates paid by ACT residents. NSW rates go to the NSW local councils that don’t provide a cent to the ACT.

Actually the ACT doesn’t get most of its funds from rates.

The ACT has about $6b in revenue of which $599m or about 10% is specifically from general rates.

Taxation in general is 35% or $2.1b which includes general rates as well as land tax, car registration, payroll tax (which BTW is roughly the same as general rates) and duties.

The biggest single stream of money comes from the GST allotment of $1.4b or 24% followed by federal grants of just under $1b.

Thanks JC for the information – it is useful to know. Land tax and car rego is also paid by ACT residents not NSW residents. Also calculations for ACT’s share of the GST would take its official population into consideration, this would not count the nearby NSW residents. It would just be nice to know whether NSW is paying a fair amount for the services that the ACT provides its residents.

Don’t quote me in it but I thought I read somewhere that NSW residents using ACT based facilities were balanced from a cost perspective by ACT residents using NSW based facilities.

But would agree it would be nice to see the actual figures.

Chris Gevaux10:33 am 09 Oct 20

May as well just go all the way, draw a line from Yass to Jervis Bay, everything between that line and Victoria becomes ACT!

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