3 August 2020

'A borderless community’: how ACT could run Ginninderry's policing, waste

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Potential buyers look over the master plan for the Ginninderry precinct.

Service provision for the Ginninderry development will cross the ACT/NSW state border. Photo: File.

The ACT Government may be contracted to provide services including policing, waste management and roads maintenance to NSW residents of Ginninderry as Yass Valley Council makes a call on how to handle the cross-border development’s future.

It is one of three options Yass Valley Council will choose to manage services for 5000 homes on the NSW side in Parkwood, which can only be accessed via Canberra.

Aeriel overlay map of Ginninderry development site.

The Ginninderry overlay map shows the extent of the development. Photo: File.

Council aims to match the services delivered to the 6500 homes on the ACT side, which means Parkwood residents will likely pay rates separate to other Yass Valley residents, which will be comparable to rates levied in the ACT.

The other options are for council to build a depot near Parkwood to deliver the services itself or for the council to contract a third party.

Approval to rezone land for Parkwood homes was recently given by the NSW Government, while construction in Ginninderry’s first suburb, Strathnairn, has begun.

Service delivery has been one of the areas of greatest community interest in the Parkwood planning proposal and the Ginninderry Joint Venture has worked with the council for the past 10 years on the matter.

Map of Parkwood development site.

Parkwood, straddling the ACT/NSW border as it currently stands. Image: File.

If contracted, the ACT Government or third-party would also provide ambulance, fire, health and library services; parks and footpath maintenance; and companion animal management.

As for school children living in Parkwood, they may be offered access to ACT schools if the NSW Government does not go ahead with plans to open a kindergarten-to-year-12 school within the development.

The vision for Ginninderry is a borderless community, according to Kim Anson, who was hired by Riverview Developments to write the West Belconnen/Parkwood Cross Border Service Delivery Report in consultation with NSW and ACT government agencies and the council.

“We would prefer for this community to have a borderless look and feel, and for community members to get a similar level of service whichever side of the border they are on,” said Ms Anson. “But it will be up to the council to determine how it wants those services to be run.”

Policing within Ginninderry is one of the most complex issues council and state and territory governments will have to address before construction of Parkwood begins in 2034.

So far, research for the planning proposal has drawn on models approved in the prominent border communities of Albury-Wodonga, on the NSW/Victoria border, and Tweed Heads and Coolangatta, on the NSW and Queensland border.

Those include the NPY Lands Cross Border Justice Project, which gives police joint jurisdictional powers on the borders of South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory, as well as the special constables model that allows NSW and Victoria officers to cross their border.

The planning proposal also suggests creating a buffer zone as a third option, that would require new legislation for Ginninderry to be policed under the laws and practices of a single jurisdiction.

The policing approach chosen for Ginninderry will also build on existing cross-agency memorandums of understanding that currently enable NSW and ACT Government agencies, such as the Rural Fire Service and ambulance service, to work together at fires and accidents on the border.

A steering committee will be established this year, with representatives from the ACT Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate; NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment; and Yass Valley Council; to meet twice a year to guide the service delivery framework for the next 14 years.

That is, unless the border is moved before then.

A service delivery model would, however, need to be finalised two to five years before construction.

“From all of the conversations we have had so far, everyone is clear if this was built tomorrow, this is the base case of how everything would work,” said Ms Anson. “Given the amount of time we have got, we will keep talking.”

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