Cross-Border Commissioner

Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (11:29): I rise to make a few comments on the cross-border commissioner motion brought to us by the member for Mount Gambier.

I note that New South Wales currently has a Cross-Border Commissioner and Victoria is in the process of appointing one. I note that in New South Wales the commissioner was first appointed in 2012 and, according to New South Wales, is to:

…assist businesses, organisations and individuals who live, work and operate in cross-border areas of New South Wales by helping to connect them to the most appropriate agency to ensure their issue is addressed.

In regard to Victoria, their 2018-19 state budget had a budget allocation of $760,000 over two years for a cross-border commissioner, and the decision to appoint a Victorian cross-border commissioner was well informed by a business case announced almost a year ago.

I would like to talk about a few things that happen where I am. In the recent redistribution the Mallee came home; Pinnaroo and Lameroo came back to Hammond after being ably looked after by the member for Chaffey for four years. So, apart from the border districts that the member for Chaffey already has in the Riverland area, he looked after down around Pinnaroo for four years.

There are issues that arise. There are justice issues, and we have heard about those where there is collaboration across some borders on justice issues. That is very helpful, because otherwise we get situations where police may be pursuing an alleged criminal and they get to a state border and, hang on, they have to pull out because they do not have that cross-jurisdictional power. Obviously South Australia, being where it is in the centre of the country and the south of the country, has borders all around as well as the sea on one side, so cross-border jurisdictional issues regarding justice are principally being addressed.

With regard to education, I am well aware of what happens in the Mallee between the Lameroo Regional Community School and the Murrayville Primary School or the Pinnaroo Primary School. A range of issues come into play, and it is a known fact that whether it is in the meat industry or in the horticulture industry—and horticulture plays a very big part in the Mallee, with places like Parilla Premium Potatoes and others, the Dabinetts, a whole range of growers out there who produce 80 per cent of Australia's potatoes, apart from a range of other vegetables such as onions and carrots, to keep this great economy—

The Hon. S.K. Knoll: Parsnips?

Mr PEDERICK: They might grow parsnips, I am not sure. I would have to check on that, minister.

Members interjecting:

Mr PEDERICK: Yes, they do a great job. There is a lot of dryland cropping done in the Mallee as well, and some of the best merinos in the state are bred out there.

An honourable member: Are you sure about that?

Mr PEDERICK: I knew that would raise a debate. The merino is back, as we know, with the resurgence of wool prices—

An honourable member: Under a Liberal government.

Mr PEDERICK: Yes, under a Liberal government wool prices have surged. They have hit $20 a kilo cleaned for prime wool. It is a great result for farmers who were resilient in cross-border areas and kept hold of their stock. As I said, it is a large cropping area as well, and I am a firm believer that mixed farmers should spread their risk, and they are finally getting the rewards after many years of prime lambs being the lead income earner on the sheep side of things. It is good to see that cattle are back in the mix as well, but they have dropped in price a little bit recently.

There are those issues and also issues with migrants who come into the regions because we cannot find enough workers. Thomas Foods will hopefully be operating again within the next couple of years after its rebuild, and they are heavily reliant on 457 visa holders. The new visa coming through is 482. As far as horticulture in the Mallee is concerned, there are a lot of migrant families, a lot of South African families and others who come to assist that industry. Some of them are a bit baffled by the different rules, but it is all about state boundaries. It is not as if we are going to align every piece of state legislation with Victoria just because the border is where it is.

There are certainly some issues, and I am looking at them. I am looking at education issues and different fee regimes in different states as those can affect where people live and where they educate their children. It certainly was an issue that Thomas Foods took into account when they were transferring workers through to Tamworth because of the fire on 3 January this year. I know that all the people involved in education in the area, whether it is at Murrayville, Pinnaroo or Lameroo, have plenty of communication working through issues as needed.

Health is brought up occasionally because of health issues and ambulance calls and that kind of thing. I wrote to federal minister Greg Hunt about this and he talked about the National Health Reform Agreement entered into by all states and territories and the Australian government agreeing to provide eligible persons with the choice to receive public hospital services as public patients free of charge on the levels of clinical need and within the clinically appropriate period. States have also committed to have arrangements in place to ensure equitable access to such services for all eligible persons regardless of their geographic boundaries.

In a letter I received from the Minister for Health in Victoria, the Hon. Jill Hennessy MP, it mentioned ambulance calls. For calls generated in Victoria and processed in Victoria by the Emergency Services Telecommunication Authority (ESTA) and Ambulance Victoria, any cases within 25 kilometres of the South Australian border will generate an automatic dispatch of the closest Ambulance Victoria resource and an alert will be put out for an interstate resource—obviously South Australia. If there is a need and it is geographically closer, ESTA will contact the neighbouring state to see if there is a closer resource available. Those practices regarding health are in place as well.

The minister spoke about groundwater, and in the Mallee Wells area cross-border agreements are in place. The Murray-Darling Basin Plan has separate state legislation, but it is all coming together under federal legislation and it is working through that as well. In the main, we are pretty impressed with a lot of the cross-border liaison that goes on already. As a member in a bordering electorate, I understand the complexities and will work with all the authorities to get the job right.