Helen Haines MP has welcomed the long-awaited start of the Albury-Wodonga Regional Deal, saying it will help the region rebuild from the impact of bushfires and COVID-19.

The Statement of Intent for the Regional Deal has been signed by the Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, the mayors of the Albury and Wodonga City Councils and and state representatives Jaclyn Symes, Victoria’s Minister for Regional Development, and John Barilaro, NSW Minister for the Regions.

Dr Haines welcomed the signing and the start of the $3.2 million planning phase.

“The Regional Deal is an exciting and historic opportunity to encourage investment in our region and have a transformative impact for decades to come,” she said.

“This will bring jobs, accelerate our growth and attract families to make here their home.

“It will propel our economic recovery from COVID-19 and the bushfires beyond returning to ‘business as usual’, to a transformed, thriving and connected economy.

“What makes this Deal special is that the community is at the wheel. It’s about using local knowledge to identify local priorities – not those decided in a boardroom somewhere else.”

Dr Haines said the Deal could unlock opportunities in health and education, which were strengths of the Border region and had huge potential to grow.

“Albury-Wodonga Health is undergoing service planning to work out what infrastructure is needed to serve the community in Wodonga, Albury and across the region. The timing couldn’t be better,” she said.

“We are blessed with two universities and two TAFEs on the Border. COVID-19 has forced us to rethink how we deliver high-quality tertiary education in the regions. The Deal could help us chart a path to future-proof these important institutions.”

Dr Haines congratulated the parties involved, particularly the Albury City Council and the City of Wodonga, whose Two Cities One Community partnership led to three levels of government coming to the table in this historic partnership.

“The councils have done the preparation work,” she said.

“They’ve been itching to get started for months. The Statement of Intent should have been signed in December. Now the six-month delay is finally over, let’s get on with the job”.

[July 9, 2020]

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