Howard ?happy? with border

By ED SOUTHORN

JOHN Howard seems relaxed and comfortable for the Tweed to stay in NSW.

The Prime Minister and Queensland Premier Peter Beattie were yesterday full of praise for the idea of governments working together - but Mr Howard stopped short of endorsing the Mr Beattie's support for Tweed Shire becoming part of Queensland.

Mr Beattie said he would be pleased if Mr Howard did chose to support any move to shift the NSW/Queensland border south.

And Mr Howard said he was very pleased to be working with Queensland to help save water.

But on the subject of the Tweed and Lismore local government authorities becoming part of Queensland, Mr Howard was staying quiet.

The Prime Minister was visiting Hinze Dam in the Gold Coast hinterland with Mr Beattie to announce a $10 million federal-state program to reduce Gold Coast water pressure and leakage in order to save up to 20 megalitres of water per day.

Mr Howard seemed genuinely impressed with the Gold Coast hinterland, frequently remarking during his visit to the dam that many Australians who visited the Gold Coastknew little about the "green behind the gold".

However, Mr Howard declined to respond to questioning about the push by Tweed and Lismore mayors Warren Polglase and Merv King to make their communities part of Queensland.

Mr Howard's spokesman was interested to learn that NSW Tweed MP Neville Newell had not supported the border-moving idea.

The two mayors decided last week to highlight the issue publicly, after a Tweed Heads Chamber of Commerce meeting when the thorny issue of higher state taxes in NSW became a talking point.

Mr Beattie last week said if the "founding fathers" were drawing the state border today, then the Northern Rivers region would be part of Queensland.

Although it is highly unlikely a referendum would ever be held to initiate a border change, Mr Beattie's spokesman yesterday said the Premier remained happy to speak out in favour of the idea.

"We believe there are two kinds of people - people who live in Queensland and people who want to live in Queensland," the spokesman said.

Mr Beattie said he did not expect Mr Howard to "buy into the issue", but he invited Gold Coast City Council to consider giving it support.



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