Today Regional Capitals Australia (RCA) released its response to the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee’s Interim Report on its inquiry into the “future role and contribution of regional capitals to Australia” at its annual RCA Networking Breakfast.
RCA Chair, Mayor Shane Van Styn, welcomed the significant work undertaken by the Senate Committee and noted the mandate and key policy push of RCA had been endorsed when Committee Senators concluded “strong regional centres are crucial to developing and maintaining strong regions across Australia.”
“It’s important that the Committee recognised the diversity of issues in regional Australia and the need for a policy focus to help regional capital cities grow and achieve their potential,” said Van Styn.
This report from the Committee added weight to other key national voices such as Infrastructure Australia, the Regional Australia Institute and the Regional Universities Network who through submissions and witness hearings, and their independent policy positions, have called for a plan to manage the growth of regional capital cities.
“It is our belief that the success of regional Australia depends on national leadership identifying a clear role for regional capital cities.”
The report illustrated that regional capital cities:
- Are regional hubs for residents and neighbouring towns to access essential infrastructure, health services, employment and education.
- Have increased levels of ‘liveability’ that are not found in the big capital cities.
- Are growing faster than the national average.
- Have challenges in attracting investment that can turn the tide on lower levels of educational attainment and higher unemployment.
- Are struggling with infrastructure needs that are compounded with inflexible government grant funding.
“More than four million people live in a regional capital city, and another four million in the surrounding area depend on that city for their everyday needs. That’s one-third of Australia’s population living in a regional area, yet there is no clear national policy that supports the development of regional capitals,” Van Styn said.
RCA is advocating for a national policy that clearly identifies a role for regional capital cities that can support more growth in these cities. In order for this to occur, RCA has highlighted that the policy should define how to create cities that are:
- Connected: high-speed broadband, roads, rail, ports and airports; and
- Liveable: education (tertiary), health, sporting facilities, arts and culture.
“We are already seeing commitments that will impact the growth and development of regional capitals from both sides of politics during the election campaign as a response to strong advocacy from our alliance,” noted Van Styn.
“RCA will provide recommendations to the relevant committee when the matter is re-referred in the new Senate, and we will continue to work with our political leaders to deliver powerful and innovative regional capital cities of the future.”
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Sheri Shannon, Regional Capitals Australia Secretariat
P: 03 9614 7302
M: 0405 220 815
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://www.regionalcapitalsaustralia.org/