Amidst the high vis photo ops, campaign manoeuvres and the focus on ultra marginal seats it can be tricky to decipher the big visions and commitments outlined for regional Australia.
Our electorates are diverse, expansive and sometimes misunderstood in election campaigns that only allow for 15 second sound bites.
To help, we’ve done the heavy lifting and compared the major parties on the big issues that matter to regional capital cities.
In a welcome move, both parties have come out strong on digital connectivity with the Coalition committing $1.3 billion and the ALP promising to invest $1.1 billion to improve both coverage and connectivity in regional and rural Australia.
Equally, Labor and the Coalition have made specific promises to help 10,000 regional home buyers each year through the use of government mortgage guarantees.
Both parties have committed $500 million for the important Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program in 2022-23, with the ALP going one step further and promising to expand the program by an additional $250 million.
A key policy difference is the Coalition’s $2 billion Regional Accelerator Fund, a new fund to create diversified economic opportunities regional businesses. Conversely, the ALP will reserve $500 million from its proposed $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund to support agriculture and regional businesses to enter new markets.
At a big picture level Labor has committed to re-establishing the Regional Development Australia committees and while the Coalition also intends to keep these committees it has also outlined a vision of great inland regional cities, funded through a $500 million commitment (part of the Regional Accelerator Fund).
Both Labor and the Coalition have also made significant promises on regional jobs, health, education, skills and infrastructure. More detailed election analysis is available on the Regional Capitals Australia Election Tracker.
While both sides of politics have committed to important programs for regions, a strong path forward beyond funding cycles will be key to regional Australia’s future.
Regardless of who takes office, Regional Capitals Australia will be looking to work with other regional organisations such as the National Farmers Federation, Business Council of Australia, Regional Australia Institute, Rural Universities Network and Rural Doctors Association of Australia to make sure there are plans in place for each of our members to thrive.
On that note on behalf of our members, we would like to say good luck to all the candidates and we look forward to working with whoever is elected once Australia has had their say.
By Cr Daniel Moloney, Chair of Regional Capitals Australia and current Mayor of the City of Ballarat.