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Budget backs race to regions

Regional Capitals Australia (RCA) has welcomed the release of the 2022-2023 Federal Budget, which includes new funding to improve telecommunications and infrastructure in regional Australia.

RCA Chair, Cr Daniel Moloney said the budget included much-needed funding to back the national trend toward regional living, particularly in the wake of record-breaking regional growth that was revealed today.

“This budget will help connect regional cities through better telecommunications, roads and community infrastructure,” Cr Moloney said.

Key initiatives announced that impact Regional Capital Cities include:

Regional Infrastructure Programs

$7.1 billion (over 11 years) Energy Security and Regional Development Plan:  the creation of four regional hubs:

  • Northern Territory: manufacturing and renewable energy
  • North and Central Queensland:  water infrastructure for agriculture
  • Pilbara region in Western Australia: mining, mineral processing, manufacturing, hydrogen and renewable energy
  • Hunter region in New South Wales: increasing supply chain efficiencies
  • $2 billion (over 5 years) Regional Accelerator Program: for local priorities in infrastructure, manufacturing and industry development, skills and training, research and development, and education.
  • $83.2 million (over 5 years) for the Albury Wodonga Regional Deal;

New $1.3 billion telecommunications package including:

  • $800 million (over 5 years): Mobile Black Spot Program and the Regional Connectivity Program
  • $480.0 million for NBN Co: upgrade its fixed wireless and satellite network
  • $4.8 million: Mobile Network Hardening Program to fund resilience upgrades in regional Australia.

 National: Regional Roads

  • $500 million (until 2024) Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program: an extension of the program (total investment in the program is $3.0 billion); and
  • $40 million (over 4 years) bridges Renewal Program: an extra $10 million per year for this fund.

State Investment – Rail and Roads
New South Wales 
Statewide road and rail projects including:

  • $1.0 billion for the Sydney to Newcastle – Tuggerah to Wyong Faster Rail Upgrade
  • $336 million Pacific Highway – Wyong Town Center
  • $264 million Newell Highway Upgrade – Heavy Duty Pavement Upgrades – North Moree
  • $336 million Pacific Highway – Wyong Town Centre
  • $264 million Newell Highway Upgrade – Heavy Duty Pavement Upgrades – North Moree
  • $100 million Southern Connector Road, Jindabyne
  • $51.2 million Central Coast Highway Upgrade – Tumbi Road Intersection Upgrade
  • $352 million Milton Ulladulla Bypass
  • $30 million Tenterfield to Newcastle – Future Priorities

Statewide road and rail projects including:

  • $3.3 billion Melbourne Intermodal Terminal Package (including)
    • $1.2 billion for Beveridge Interstate Freight Terminal in Beveridge
    • $740 million for Western Interstate Freight Terminal in Truganina
  • $45 million Ballarat to Ouyen – Future Priorities

Statewide road and rail projects including:

  • 1.6 billion for the Brisbane to the Sunshine Coast – Beerwah-Maroochydore Rail Extension
  • $190.0 million for the Mount Isa to Rockhampton Corridor Upgrade
  • $114.4 million for the Tennant Creek to Townsville Corridor Upgrade
  • $68.5 million Cooktown to Weipa Corridor Upgrade
  • $36.2 million Gore Highway (Millmerran – Goondiwindi) Wyaga Creek Flood Improvement

Western Australia 
Statewide road and rail projects including:

  • $320 million for Stages 2 and 3 of the Bunbury Outer Ring Road
  • $178 million for Stages 1 and 2 of the Pinjarra Heavy Haulage Deviation
  • $145 million Thomas Road – Dual Carriageway – South Western Highway to Tonkin Highway and interchange at Tonkin Highway
  • $140 million Regional Road Safety Upgrades
  • $200 million for the Tonkin Highway Stage 3 Extension

Northern Territory
Statewide road and rail projects including:

  • $132 million Central Australian Tourism Roads
  • $50 million Alice Springs to Halls Creek Corridor Upgrade (Northern Territory) – Future Priorities


  • $433 million Dungowan Dam and pipeline (impacting Tamworth)
  • $5.4 billion Hells Gate Dam (impacting Townsville)
  • $483 million Urannah Dam and pipeline (impacting Central Qld)


  • Regional Home Guarantee – providing up to 10,000 places each year for next 3 years to support first homebuyers to in regional areas.


  • $15.2 million (over 7 years) to deliver regional public service hubs

Regional Health and Aged Care

  • $150.3 million to support medical training in rural and regional Australia
  • $66 million to improve access to MRI services

“We congratulate the Federal Government on the release of this important Budget at a time when our member cities are recovering from the impacts of both COVID-19 and natural disasters,” said Cr Moloney said.

“With the once-in-a-generation population shift that is occurring across regional Australia, we must also ensure we can make the most of this historic change,” Cr Moloney explained.

New figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that the population of regional Australia grew by 70,900 people during 202/21,the first time in 40 years that Australia’s regional population grew more than the capital cities.

“We are calling on the Federal Opposition to use their budget reply speech to put regional Australia on the map and ensure the growth and prosperity of our member cities for generations to come,” Cr Moloney concluded.

RCA welcomes blueprint for regional investment

Regional Capitals Australia has welcomed a breakthrough new report that outlines the regional infrastructure investment needed to lift Australia’s productivity.

Today Infrastructure Australia has released their Regional Strengths and Gaps report which clearly identifies the role that regional capitals play in our nation’s economy. 

Cr Daniel Moloney, Chair of Regional Capitals Australia (RCA) said as the country moved toward COVID recovery, the government had a once in a generation opportunity to capitalise on the regional renaissance and realise the true economic potential of our nation.

“The Regional Strengths and Gaps report from the nation’s chief infrastructure advisory body has clearly mapped the gaps and also articulated the need for increased investment in our regions” Cr Moloney said.

The Regional Strengths and Gaps report identified a total of 479 infrastructure gaps, with the most common being housing, digital connectivity, road and rail transport, water security and education.

The report also noted that Australia’s regions are powerhouses of traditional and emerging industry, with over 30% of Australia’s gross domestic product generated in regional Australia.

“Regional Australia is our nation’s secret weapon” Cr Moloney declared. 

“We have strong, diverse and resilient regional capitals but we need to get the right infrastructure in place so we can capitalise on those competitive advantages” Cr Moloney explained.

Regional Capitals Australia’s Pre Budget Submission is an action plan for Infrastructure Australia’s evidence-based report by calling for investment in:

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  • Regional infrastructure: including the Building Better Regions Fund, Regional Growth Fund, the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Fund and a new Regional Arts Infrastructure Fund;
  • Transport connectivity: including road, rail and air; and
  • Regionalisation policy: to facilitate population growth and investment in the regions.

“The regional landscape is changing and policy-makers must adapt to accommodate this surge in demand” Cr Moloney said.

“This is a great opportunity for governments to undertake proactive planning at the local level, and back that up with a big budget boost for regional infrastructure” Cr Moloney concluded.  

Regional Capitals Australia participated in Infrastructure Australia’s consultation process, giving an important voice to the 8 million people who live in regional capitals or rely on these centres for essential services.


Regional Capitals Australia has today thrown its weight behind the National Farmers Federation’s proposal to establish Regional Development Precincts.

Speaking as part of the launch today in Shepparton, Cr Daniel Moloney, Chair of Regional Capitals Australia (RCA) said as the country moved toward COVID recovery, the government had a once in a generation opportunity to pursue a strategic regionalisation agenda.

“The Regional Development Precinct proposal is great news for the identified Regional Capitals Australia members nominated, with the goal to unlock new economic and employment opportunities if government gets the delivery right” Cr Moloney said.

“We know that vibrant regional capitals provide the elements Australian agriculture needs to thrive, and vice versa” Cr Moloney explained.

“However, regional Australia is a diverse place and we believe the model should be expanded further to include important cities such as Ballarat, Albury, Alice Springs, Broken Hill, Broome, Bunbury, Coffs Harbour, Fraser Coast, Geelong, Karratha and Port Hedland” Cr Moloney said.

The National Farmers Federation (NFF) has proposed new funding and framework to drive collaboration and investment across all three tiers of government for a select number of regional centres, with a particular focus on accelerating primary production. 

RCA acknowledged the role of primary production in regional Australia but also emphasized the importance of also developing all regional cities – with diverse economies – to secure new and emerging industries.

“Regional Capitals are booming and it have been the engine room of Australia’s economy throughout the COVID-19 pandemic – a precinct mode of investment would help ensure our members get the right infrastructure funding to keep pace with that growth” Cr Moloney said.

According to Infrastructure Australia, there has been a 200% increase in growth to regional areas during the COVID-19 pandemic, creating demand for housing, services, and infrastructure.

Chair of the National Farmers Federation Ms Fiona Simson said at least $1.4 billion in new funding was needed to ensure the plan was empowered to come to life and didn’t become yet another glossy document gathering dust in a high-rise inner-city office.

“Rural local governments are acutely aware of both the challenges their communities face and their potential, but are financially constrained by a more-often-than-not small rate base. The tangible support of state and Federal governments, to address these would be a game-changer for the identified 20 towns and, undoubtedly, many more rural regions” Ms Simson said.

RCA collaborated with the NFF to ensure the voice of regional capitals was heard through the policy development process, particularly advocating for a reinvigoration of Regional Deals and associated regional development programs.

“The secret’s out” Cr Moloney declared.

“Regional capital living offers a more affordable lifestyle, strong sense of community and better work-life balance – but we also need deliberate funding and policy settings to preserve those unique advantages and keep pace with growth” Cr Moloney concluded.

The NFF has proposed twenty locations for the new Regional Development Precincts based on a range of social, environmental and economic criteria. They are:

  • Roma (QLD),
  • Tennant Creek (NT),
  • Toowoomba (QLD),
  • Latrobe/Gippsland (VIC),
  • Emerald (QLD),
  • Mildura (VIC),
  • Gladstone (QLD),
  • Shepparton (VIC),
  • Mount Gambier (SA),
  • Warrnambool (VIC),
  • Port Lincoln (SA)
  • West/North West Region (TAS)
  • Central West/Oranga (NSW)
  • Greater Geraldton (WA)
  • Riverina (NSW)
  • Kalgoorlie-Boulder (WA)
  • Northern Rivers (NSW); and
  • Merredin (WA).


Growing Regional Capitals Need Growing Investment

Ahead of the 2022 Federal Election Regional Capitals Australia is calling for growing investment to support growing regional communities.

Cr Daniel Moloney, Chair of Regional Capitals Australia said as the country moved toward COVID recovery, planning for a network of strong regional capitals is now a national imperative.

“This plan should make sure when both state and international borders fully open that new arrivals and those who are seeking to escape the major capitals can choose to make a regional capital city their home,” Cr Moloney said.

“We are all aware that regional capital city living is on the agenda, however for this trend to continue long term we have to ensure expectation meets with reality,” Cr Moloney stated.

According to the Infrastructure Australia, there has been a 200% increase of the growth to regional areas during the COVID-19 pandemic that has built demand on housing, services, and infrastructure.

“That is why Regional Capitals Australia is calling for investment into our member cities to deliver on our objective to make thriving urban centres with all the things – albeit on a smaller scale – that people will find in the major capitals,” Cr Moloney said.

Regional Capitals Australia through a pre-budget submission has called for the following investments:

  • Better rail connections: more funding towards business case development for regional rail projects and prioritisation of the delivery of these projects under the national rail program;
  • Better air connections: a regional aviation strategy to better connect regional cities to the nation ongoing funding for the regional airports fund;
  • More for arts and culture: a greater share of the national arts and culture funding to grow local talent and attract more shows and exhibitions to our cities and more funding to build quality facilities; and
  • City and Job building funds: more funding for the Building Better Regions Fund and Local Road and Community Infrastructure Fund and re-establish the Regional Growth Fund to allow our cities to grow sustainably and meet the demand for jobs.

Regional Capitals Australia has also called on the Government to use international immigration to solve skills shortages and enable more business investment into our cities through clear regional visa streams.

“Regional Capitals Australia knows our members can be part of the solution of a more productive, liveable and fair Australia,” Cr Moloney said.

“We just need the investment and the right policy settings to allow this to occur – and really isn’t more balance something we are all striving for?” Cr Moloney concluded.

Regional Capitals announces new board ahead of 2022 election

Regional Capitals announces new board ahead of 2022 election

Regional Capitals Australia (RCA) has announced a new Chair and Board for 2022, following this week’s Annual General Meeting.

Cr Daniel Moloney, Mayor of the City of Ballarat was elected to take up the reins as Chair, with Cr Grant Henley, Mayor of the City of Busselton returned as Deputy Chair.

In his first statement as Chair, Cr Daniel Moloney said: “It is an honour to take up the baton as Chair and I look forward to continuing the great work of championing the interests of regional Australia.”

“It is an important time for our association as we head into a federal election, we will be stepping up our advocacy on behalf of the one in three people who rely on our member cities for their every day needs,”

“The Board and I will be working to ensure our members have access to much needed funding to invest in roads, rail, airports as well as digital technology, arts, culture and high quality education options,” he said.

Other Board positions confirmed at the AGM were as follows:

  • Treasurer: Mayor Shane Van Styn, Mayor of the City of Greater Geraldton;
  • Western Australia Representative: Cr Grant Henley, Mayor of the City of Busselton;
  • Queensland Representative: Cr George Seymour, Mayor of Fraser Coast Regional Council;
  • Northern Territory Representative: Cr Matt Paterson, Mayor of Alice Springs Town Council; and
  • Victorian Representative: Cr Daniel Moloney, Mayor of the City of Ballarat.


The New South Wales (NSW) representative will be determined post the NSW Local Government Elections taking place this coming weekend.

Cr Moloney takes over from Cr Kevin Mack who chaired RCA over the past 12 months and who retired from Albury City Council ahead of the Local Government elections.






Cr Moloney credited the outgoing RCA Chair with strong leadership through a difficult year: “Cr Mack continued to represent our communities despite the many challenges of COVID-19 restrictions within his own community,”

“Cr Mack lead many delegations with senior government leaders and demonstrated the need for greater infrastructure and policy support to match the strong population growth across regional Australia – I look forward to continuing his work” he concluded.


RCA would also like to acknowledge the contribution of our retiring Board Members and New South Wales’ Local Government Mayors:

  • Cr Col Murray, Mayor of Tamworth Regional Council; and
  • Cr Greg Conkey, Mayor of Wagga Wagga City Council.

RCA Welcomes Watershed Moment for Regions


Regional Capitals Australia has welcomed the 2021 Australian Infrastructure Plan as a watershed moment for Australia’s regional capital cities, but cautions that it must be supported by clear government action.

In the plan, Infrastructure Australia (IA) has articulated a clear vision for our regional capital cities.   There is a strong acknowledgment that regional infrastructure investment must be used to empower our member cities to lead Australia’s economic recovery while attracting a larger share of the nation’s population.

Chair of Regional Capitals Australia Cr Kevin Mack said “This is an overwhelming endorsement of the role of regional capital cities in driving Australia forward, and of the work that Regional Capitals Australia has been doing in this space over the past decade,”

“Infrastructure Australia have rightly put regional capital cities front and centre of their blueprint for infrastructure reform in Australia.   Now we need the rubber to hit the road, with real action from the Federal Government,” he said.

According to Infrastructure Australia’s research, there was a 200% increase in net growth to regional centres and regional areas during the COVID-19 pandemic.

These figures have been backed by the Domain House Price Report which stated that regional housing increased by 12.5% in the past year to June 2021.  Core Logic had rental vacancy at 1% on average in March this year.

“Many parts of regional Australia are experiencing a COVID-induced population boom, but building resilient regions takes more than a migration shift.  The infrastructure has to underpin the growth” Cr Mack said.

The report acknowledges that improved coordination and delivery of infrastructure is essential if regionalisation is to be a success, and sustainable over the longer term.

The 2021 Australian Infrastructure Plan has also made a number of landmark recommendations to improve the amenity of regional capital cities, develop key industries and relieve population pressures in other high growth metro areas.  The plan particularly focuses on:

  • Creating connected regional cities through rail and air infrastructure;
  • Measuring and improving digital connections to support industry, the work from home movement; and
  • Social infrastructure including housing and health to support improvements in liveability.

“Regional Capitals Australia would have liked to see arts, culture and sporting infrastructure included in the social area.

“We know that when people move from places like Sydney and Melbourne they are looking for these things, and having them available will ensure people stay in our communities for the long haul” Cr Mack said.

“Regional Capitals Australia is gratified to see our vision for regional capitals replicated in the 2021 Infrastructure Australia Plan.”

“We are looking forward to working with the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development the Hon Barnaby Joyce MP and Minister for Regionalism, Regional Communication and Regional Education the Hon Bridget McKenzie to ensure that there is funding available to make the vision a reality,” Cr Mack concluded.


Regions feeling the squeeze from highest migration on record

Regional Capitals Australia has welcomed Australian Bureau of Statistics figures released this week confirming that the current move to regional Australia is the highest on record.

Chair of Regional Capitals Australia Cr Kevin Mack said “These figures put an official number to regional capitals’ long term mandate – that regional cities are the liveable alternative to the nation’s capitals.”

In the March 2021 quarter there was a net loss of 11,800 people from Australia’s greater capital cities, the largest net loss on record. A total of 66,300 people made the move to regional Australia, embracing the opportunities and lifestyle offered by regional living.

Notably, our nation’s largest capitals suffered the biggest net loss during the March quarter with Sydney losing 8,200 people and Melbourne 8,300 people.

Cr Mack said “Never before has it been so critical that we get the right infrastructure in place. Regional capitals are facing unprecedented demand for services, in the face of this once-in-a-generation population shift.”

Regional Capitals Australia is advocating for targeted investment to support the growth of our cities, particularly:

  • Prioritising the investment for a new round of business fibre zones and mobile blackspots in regional capitals;
  • Additional funding to support the development of regional city rail projects; and
  • New funding for the Regional Airports Fund and Regional Growth Fund.

Cr Mack said “COVID-19 has changed how we live and work.  In regional Australia, our digital technology and housing services in particular, are not keeping up.”

“For too long there has been a capital city-centric approach.  It is crucial that we acknowledge the growth in regional Australia, and get the policy settings right, accordingly.”

Regional Capitals Australia is urging governments of all persuasions to follow the demographic trend, and ensure that funding matches the move to regional living.


Regional Capitals Australia Welcomes Regional Reboot Budget

Regional Capitals Australia (RCA) has tonight welcomed the release of the 2021-2022 Federal Budget, which includes new funding to reboot the regions.

RCA Chair, Cr Kevin Mack said the budget included much-needed stimulus towards investments in roads, community infrastructure and important services that will make regional capitals good places to live. READ MORE “Regional Capitals Australia Welcomes Regional Reboot Budget”

Beware The Status Quo

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With the Australia Day ‘long weekend’ upon us, it is almost time for the annual (and very painful) exchange of beach chairs for desk chairs.

The precise location of these chairs and the employees who occupy them has been the topic of much debate in recent days. Lord Mayors, business peak bodies and even Federal Ministers have called for big and small businesses alike to embrace “COVID Normal”, with the first agenda item a move from the home office back to the CBD. READ MORE “Beware The Status Quo”

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