We recently saw another indication of the growing importance of regional cities, when Prime Minister the Hon Malcolm Turnbull and Federal Minister for Cities Minister the Hon Paul Fletcher joined the Andrews Government to sign a Memorandum of Understanding to do a Geelong City Deal.
Geelong joins two other Regional Capitals Australia members, Launceston in Tasmania and Townsville in Queensland (who are also members of our association) to be nominated for a City Deal. In the deals that have been signed there has been a commitment to bring significant investment from both State and Federal Governments and also the private sector to the city and wider region.
It is disappointing however to see that smaller cities like Horsham are currently ineligible for a City Deal due to not meeting an arbitrary population threshold.
It is the position of RCA, an organisation I Chair, that regional cities across Australia are increasingly important to not only national prosperity but also the region it serves.
Our smaller regional cities are important regional centres, offering alternatives for business and families to escape the crushing congestion and growing unaffordable lifestyles of big cities like Melbourne.
These regional cities also serve as fundamental regional hubs, providing essential economic and life-saving services and resources not only for people living in the city itself, but also for those living in the surrounding towns.
All evidence points to the fact that cities like Horsham are worthy of this investment, as the smaller regional cities perform well above Melbourne on a range of indicators. For Horsham, these include overall population unemployment at 3.80% compared to 6.21% in Melbourne, while the median price for a home in Horsham is about $265K verses more than $650K in Melbourne.
In Tamworth, the median price for a home is approximately $485K as opposed to more than $660K in Melbourne, with a population growth rate of 0.93% in Tamworth and 6.21% in Melbourne respectively.
For Palmerston locals, the median price for a home is roughly $505K, with an unemployment rate of 3.80%.
The median price for a home in Geraldton is about $285K verses more than $650K in Melbourne, while 6.8% of people living in Geraldton completed additional studies at a technical or further education institution compared to 6.1% on average in Australia.
Residents of Bundaberg pay an average of $225K for a home and like many of our regional cities, the rates of congestion are significantly lower in Bundaberg, with employment easily accessible mere minutes from home – something which rarely happens for those living in Melbourne.
Through my role on the Australian Government’s Smart Cities Reference Group I will continue to advocate for the government to expand their focus to include smaller regional cities in their investment plans – making sure regional cities remain the liveable, affordable and investable alterative.
Rachael Sweeney, Regional Capitals Australia Secretariat
P: 03 9666 3368
M: 0422 067 858
About Regional Capitals Australia
Regional Capitals Australia (RCA) is a national alliance of local government councils across the nation representing Australia’s regional cities. RCA’s mission is to provide a recognised platform to champion the strategic importance and sustainable development of regional capitals around the nation. To learn more about our work visit http://regionalcapitalsaustralia.org.
Available for Interview
Mayor Shane Van Styn – Chair, Regional Capitals Australia