What new Aussie state would look like
Maps have been released showing what a new "super state" in Australia would look like ahead of the campaign's first briefing with the public this week.
The "state of Murray" is a working title for the proposed new jurisdiction's name, but will be one of the topics discussed.
Liberal Democrats MP Tim Quilty first proposed the move dubbed "Rexit", meaning "regional exit", in his maiden speech to parliament in 2018 where he called for country Victoria and NSW to join forces and split from their capitals.
The state's Parliamentary Budget Office then published the radical policy proposal in December last year after Mr Quilty requested "independent advice" about the "economic character" of a new state.
Under the proposal, major Victorian regional centres such as Ballarat, Bendigo, Mildura, Wodonga and Shepparton would be included in the new jurisdiction, alongside NSW hubs such as Wagga Wagga, Albury, Orange, Bathurst and Griffith.
The map sent to NCA NewsWire showed a massive portion of regional Victoria and large chunks of southern NSW included in the new state.
The red lines were statistical areas used by the Australian Bureau of Statistics - those areas formed the basis of the data compiled by the Parliamentary Budget Office to determine the proposed state's demographic and financial data.
Mr Quilty said the "Rexit" campaign would start this week and he would discuss his "vision for a new state" at a forum in the Victorian border town of Wodonga.
He would then host similar events in Rutherglen on March 24 and Tallangatta on April 8, before taking the idea to Shepparton and Bright later this year.
Mr Quilty told NCA NewsWire these regional centres had been "overlooked by city-focused governments".
"The COVID pandemic has shone a very bright and very unfavourable light on our treatment," he said.
"All of these locations are border regions, a long way from Dan Andrews' focus on Melbourne, and they have all been subject to the destruction of border closures, snap lockdowns and unnecessary COVID restrictions.
"We have not needed these restrictions, the Premier conceded it was easier to lock down the whole state rather than just Melbourne, and we are paying a heavy price for his lazy shortcuts.
"I hope my efforts to demonstrate the benefits of forming our own state will be complemented by Mr Andrews' outstanding work in alienating and insulting 1.6 million regional Victorians."
Mr Quilty said he was floating two models for the proposed new state, the first being northern regional Victoria combined with southern regional NSW.
He said the second model was for the Greater Melbourne and Geelong regions to form one state, and the Greater Sydney region to be its own jurisdiction, while the rest of regional Victoria and regional NSW would form "one big super state".
Mr Quilty said he hoped the campaign starting this week would help his idea gather momentum, in the hope of building a case for a referendum that would redraw state boundaries.
But the Victorian government rejected claims it had "forgotten" regional Victoria while formulating COVID-19 restrictions.
"We have followed the advice of the chief health officer every step of the way through this pandemic," a spokeswoman said.
"We know this has had a big impact on regional communities and businesses which is why we're delivering an unprecedented amount of support - most recently the $143 million Circuit Breaker Support Package.
"Whether it's investing in our country hospitals, schools, businesses or farms, we are a government that is making regional Victoria stronger than ever before with record funding and low unemployment so it's an even better place to live, work and visit."
The following Victorian and NSW geographical areas were included as being part of the proposed new state:
- North West
- Latrobe - Gippsland
- Warrnambool and South West
- Capital Region
- Lachlan Valley
- Central West
- Young - Yass
- Goulburn - Mulwaree
- Lithgow Region
Bathurst Regional Council mayor Bobby Bourke dismissed the idea.
"We're not interested in any proposal like that," he told NCA NewsWire.
"We're happy with NSW as a state and what Victorians do, they do.
"We've got enough to put up with just the eight states and the last thing Australia wants is another state."
But City of Wagga Wagga mayor Greg Conkey didn't rule out the proposal.
"It's an interesting proposal - I'd like to see the finer details," he said.
"But I don't think you could argue that we miss out here in Wagga Wagga. We're expecting $150 million to pour into this city over the next five years, so to some degree the state government is certainly looking after Wagga."
Originally published as What new Aussie state would look like