Axe falls on Albury-Wodonga Corporation

Albury Wodonga Corporation chief executive and disposals manager Dennis Hickey at the announcement of the release of new land near Thurgoona in 2011. Picture: MATTHEW SMITHWICK

Albury Wodonga Corporation chief executive and disposals manager Dennis Hickey at the announcement of the release of new land near Thurgoona in 2011. Picture: MATTHEW SMITHWICK

AN announcement is expected this morning that the Albury-Wodonga Corporation will be axed forthwith.

The pre-budget move by the federal government is likely to be made public today.

It will bring about the corporation’s demise in the next 12 months — after 41 years.

A source in Canberra yesterday told The Border Mail Finance Minister Senator Mathias Cormann would make the announcement.

Another pre-budget announcement is expected to terminate the National Water Commission. 

Only five staff remain at the Macauley Street offices of the corporation, which employed about 110 at its peak.

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It follows the Commission of Audit report, which stated the Albury-Wodonga Corporation should be wound up “given it has successfully sold much of its landholdings”.

“Any residual landholdings could be transferred into the (Finance) Department to achieve economies of scale and reduce administration costs,” it read.

Former Labor finance minister Penny Wong had last year extended the corporation’s intended wrap-up date of 2015 to 2021, initially due to the global financial crisis and the poor economic conditions that followed.

The corporation, headed by Peter Veneris since 2006, has about 1150 hectares left to sell, together with about 50 vacant home sites.

Peter Veneris

Peter Veneris

The land bank has fallen slightly since July when it had 1273 hectares valued at $55 million.

The corporation, originally the Albury Wodonga Development Corporation, was created by the 1973 Albury-Wodonga Area Development Agreement, signed by prime minister Gough Whitlam, NSW premier Bob Askin and Victorian premier Rupert Hamer.

The aim was to build a growth centre of 300,000 by the year 2000, but later the target was halved and in 1990 officially scrapped.

At its peak the corporation owned 24,079 hectares, meaning only about 5 per cent of its land holdings remain.

As the Border’s leading developer for decades, it created 6000 home sites and six industrial estates, planted millions of trees and provided the land for two university and two TAFE campuses.

Included in the remaining land are Airside North (Thurgoona) and Baranduda Enterprise Park industrial estates, which are being marketed as joint ventures with the respective city councils.

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