The federal government has blamed its Victorian and NSW counterparts for holding up the historic Albury-Wodonga regional deal.
Department of Infrastructure cities executive director Richard Wood told a Senate Estimates hearing on Monday that there had been two meetings since March with Albury and Wodonga councils, which are ready to go with the project.
He said the project could only "accelerate accordingly" when state governments officially gave their approval, which would trigger wider consultation with other Border organisations.
"At this stage the two councils are the key participants and we would expect the states to come along with that as well," he said.
"We've been having very positive discussions with officials from both governments and certainly NSW has advised us formally they expect to formally agree to participate in that imminently.
"With Victoria we've been having positive discussions and we wait to hear from the Victoria state government."
Infrastructure deputy secretary Luke Yeaman said Albury and Wodonga councils had put substantial time and resources into getting ready for the deal and briefing the department.
"They are quite ready for when the time comes when the state governments to get on board to then move ahead," he said.
"They have done quite a lot of legwork with their own community members to build up for what they see as some of the key elements of the deal, that could be delivered if the Commonwealth and state governments support those."
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But the office of Victoria's Regional Development Minister Jaclyn Symes said it has not been provided with any deal to sign up to yet.
"The Commonwealth hastily announced a proposal for a regional deal during the election campaign without any consultation with either Victoria or NSW," a spokeswoman said.
"If the Commonwealth was serious about a regional deal, they would have contacted Victoria about it before blaming us at Senate Estimates."
Albury MP Justin Clancy told The Border Mail that he was advised last month the NSW Department of Primary Industries had committed to provide planning support for the deal, but was waiting for the federal government to complete its guidelines.
"Obviously there needs to be a bit of clarity there - my understanding from that is NSW has given its support," he said.
Labor Senator Murray Watt fired questions at former Regional Development Minister Bridget McKenzie in Senate Estimates, saying the regional deal was "just a way of the government dressing up election commitments".
"Isn't it really the case that this Albury-Wodonga regional deal, it's off in the never-never because it was just an election commitment designed to coincide with your Press Club speech in Wodonga?" he said.
Senator McKenzie said she doubted that was the case.
"The local mayors don't feel that way, the local businesses don't feel that way," she said.
"The level of frustration within the communities about the lack of harmonisation on a raft of issues between the two state governments is palpable and costs them a lot of money.
"I'm confident we'll land it."
She said the regional deal would not just be able infrastructure projects, but solving some of the frustrating cross-border issues.
"As a resident of those communities, they're very excited to get it going," Senator McKenzie said.
"Now is an opportune time for both NSW and Victorian relevant ministers to see the benefits of participating in this together.
"The communities are ready to go."
An initial funding amount of $3.2 million was provided for the deal's strategic planning phase.
City deals policy and programs general manager Adam Stankevicius told the Estimates hearing he expected this phase to be completed in the next six months after the state governments signed on to the project.
The department also expected to discuss the deal with surrounding councils such as Greater Hume and Indigo shires.
"We're yet to have those discussions on the ground," he said.
"We'll certainly have those discussions with the broader councils because they'll be an important part of better understanding the region that Albury-Wodonga sits within."