By ERWIN CHLANDA
A historic agreement between South Australia and the Northern Territory will usher in a new era of collaboration that will benefit both sides of the border, according to a joint statement by NT Chief Minster Michael Gunner (at right) and SA Premier Jay Weatherill (at left).
They will sign a strategic partnership agreement at a joint meeting of SA and NT cabinet ministers in Alice Springs today, “an Australian first”.
The statement says: “The agreement goes beyond traditional cooperation between states and territories, and will provide the foundation for collaboration and joint investment in mutual priorities, and a united voice on the Federal stage across a number of policy areas.”
The statement names five priorities for the first year of the agreement:-
• Critical road infrastructure upgrades to better support transport between jurisdictions.
• An international engagement, trade and investment action plan including collaboration on joint international trade missions.
• Further development of the Explorers Way as an iconic Australian tourism experience, which will have a firm connection to the Territory’ s $100m Iconic National Indigenous Art Trail initiative, including a National Indigenous Art Gallery project in Alice Springs.
• Supporting the development of our most vulnerable and disadvantaged children, particularly those in regional and remote areas.
• Joint implementation and national advocacy to create high-quality disability services, regional jobs and business opportunities through the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
The Strategic Partnership Agreement will replace the existing Memorandum of Understanding, says the statement.
“It will provide a more structured approach to the implementation of priority initiatives and will focus on delivering real benefits for citizens in both jurisdictions.
“Under this collaborative new approach, both first ministers will meet every year to set the priorities for the next 12 months.
“The new agreement will elevate the bilateral relationship between SA and NT to a more strategic and ambitious level, setting the high watermark of interjurisdictional collaboration and cooperative federalism in Australia.”
Mr Weatherill says SA and NT “have a strong history of cooperation, shared cultures and regions and combined strengths.
“This agreement recognises that as governments change, progress towards achieving mutually beneficial outcomes should not be stalled.”
Mr Gunner says: “This partnership agreement brings a level of cooperation that is unprecedented in Australian history.
“It represents a new way forward for Federation in this nation, but significantly will pave the way for the delivery of outcomes that will benefit Territorians well into the future and beyond political cycles.”
The priority areas will “focus on further developing our joint tourism products, critical road infrastructure and support to our most disadvantaged remote and regional communities.”
'Historic agreement to strengthen SA-NT bond'
By ERWIN CHLANDA