End of road for Albury-Wodonga Corporation?

Peter Veneris

Peter Veneris

THE Albury-Wodonga Corporation faces the prospect of being axed much sooner than expected.

The Commission of Audit report to the federal government says the 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 said.

The previous Labor government last year extended the corporation’s term from 2015 to 2021.

Only about 1150 hectares of the land bank — mostly rural land — remains, plus about 50 vacant home sites, in all believed to be worth about $50 million.

Industrial land in Baranduda and Thurgoona is being sold in conjunction with the two city councils.

The commission lists 99 “principal bodies” for rationalisation either by abolition, merger, absorption in a department or privatisation.

The corporation drove the Albury-Wodonga National Growth Centre project from 1973 and has survived despite a wind-down that started in 1989, leaving a legacy of almost 5000 home sites, several hundred houses, six industrial parks and land for universities, TAFEs and schools.

Today the corporation doesn’t cost the government anything and last year paid a $4 million dividend, taking the total return to the Commonwealth since 1989 to $319 million.

Chief executive Peter Veneris said last night that the inclusion of the corporation had not come as a complete surprise.

Only five staff now work at the corporation, which once employed more than 100.

Its board — interim chairman Andrew Watson, Carol Judd and Mr Veneris — is due to meet next week, but the government is yet to appoint a chairman to replace Bill Hanrahan.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann is the responsible minister.