Ahead of the 2023 Federal Budget Regional Capitals Australia has headed to Canberra this week to make a call for increased resourcing to support regional growth.
Cr Kylie King, Chair of Regional Capitals Australia said regional Australia was defying predictions, continuing to experience population growth 15% higher than pre-pandemic levels.
“This year’s Federal Budget comes at a critical time for regional Australia, with many states recovering from natural disasters, skill shortages biting hard and budget blowouts due to the rising cost of materials and services” Cr King explained.
Regional Capitals Australia (RCA) has used its Pre-Budget Submission 2023-24 to call for a boost in infrastructure funding, including increasing the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program to $1 billion to deal with the major damage done to regional roads due to flooding over the past 12 months.
RCA is also urging the Federal Government to also put the connectivity and culture needs of regional Australians on the agenda by providing funding for regional airports and arts and culture infrastructure.
Cr King said “In regional areas local government funds these important facilities which make our communities more liveable and connected, this is not the case in metropolitan areas – regional councils need support.”
“Regional Australia is the engine room of our nation’s economy and it’s so important that local government get the right level of investment for our regions to prosper and grow” Cr King pointed out.
A summary of the budget recommendations are as follows:
- Population Policy: Develop a population policy that encourages regional growth, and supports international migration to regional areas.
- Support for arts, culture: recognise the role of creative arts in contributing to liveability and population growth in regional Australia and ensure a greater share of the national arts and culture funding to grow local talent, attract more shows/exhibitions and fund arts venues;
- Regional infrastructure: deliver more reliable and consistent funding rounds exclusively for regional communities that meets their diverse needs and reflects the population growth and inflationary pressures on councils;
- Better air connections: a regional aviation strategy to better connect regional cities to the nation as well as recurrent funding for the Regional Airports Fund;
- Regional roads: increase Round 4 of the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program to $1 billion.
- Financial stability: increase the Federal share of grant funding for regional projects where cost escalations (eg skills, labour, freight, materials) can be demonstrated.
“People are flocking to the opportunities and liveability offered by the regions, and we know that regional capital cities can be part of the solution of a more productive, liveable and fair Australia,” Cr King concluded.