My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Regional Development. It is about cross-border issues and problems and the impact on many of my constituents of the myriad differences in laws, regulations and conventions across state borders, especially for those living close to New South Wales and South Australia. Naturally, the effect of these differences varies from case to case, but some of the many fields in which people near the borders experience such discrepancies include further education, health and mental health services, licensing for trades and various other professions, public holidays and opening hours, and L- and P-plate driving requirements, to name a few.
Of course my constituents and I appreciate that these anomalies are difficult to resolve. In my case I certainly applaud the process started a few years ago that led to the appointment of a Victorian cross-border commissioner as one means of trying to tackle some of the problems. I am also aware that as part of that considerable work is currently being done on targeting difficulties with matters like liquor licensing, building licensing and taxi and ridesharing arrangements through a potential MOU between Victoria and New South Wales.
Cross-border issues are not front of mind when most forms of legislation and regulation are contemplated by governments and are typically only directly addressed, if at all, when the adverse consequences have already emerged. Indeed, in this vein, I note the significant media coverage just a few months ago about the enduring differences between Victoria and New South Wales regarding plastic bag bans, the existence of a state container deposit program and the eligibility of people with acute health conditions for the compassionate access scheme. In the latter case, for example, the Border Mail revealed on 27 September that the Smith family in Thurgoona has been awaiting urgent help from the Victorian government since July.
The action I seek from the minister is an indication of whether she would be prepared to attend a meeting in the near future with Victoria’s cross-border commissioner and me. This meeting would be held to discuss, in particular, the possible incorporation of a mandatory cross-border impact component in Victorian regulatory impact statements and a mandatory cross-border issues section in Victorian funding guidelines documents. I believe both those changes have considerable potential and merit to pre-emptively avert at least some future legal, regulatory and service inconsistencies across our borders. I would be keen to know if the minister agrees, or if not, why not.