Regional Cities Set to Swell – Mayor asks Government: “Where the bloody hell are ya?”

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Regional Capitals Australia (RCA) today applauded the release of a new report highlighting Australia’s regional cities are set to swell, with the potential to add $375 billion per year to the nation’s bottom line by 2031.

The report also highlighted that the shared economies of Australia’s regional cities have the potential to grow by 65 per cent by 2031 – if the right investment takes place to support business investment.

Lighting Up our Great Small Cities: Challenging Misconceptions authored by the Regional Australia Institute (RAI) has called for a rethink on many myths invented about regional cities.

RCA Chair, Mayor Shane Van Styn said the RAI’s work challenged the view that the size of a city was the only indicator of economic value to the nation.

“This report is essentially saying cities of all sizes are dynamic – the idea that regional cities are and will continue to be a drag on our economy is clearly fanciful and fiction,” Mayor Van Styn said.

The RAI report highlighted one important key trend:

  • There was no statistical difference of workforce participation between Australia’s small and large regional cities – each sharing a workforce participation of 74%; and
  • There was little statistical difference (1%) of workforce participation between Australia’s major metropolitan cities and regional cities. The major capital’s average of 75 % workforce while regional cities each had an average 74%.

“The RAI’s work continues to confirm what those of us that live in regional cities know – we have a willing workforce and an enviable lifestyle,” Mayor Van Styn said.

“That can’t be said of the major metropolitan cities – in fact, the viability of these cities must surely be under review as crushing congestion costs the nation every day,” he said.

“Despite the mounting evidence, it still remains unclear how the government plans to act to make sure our regional cities are planned for with the right level of infrastructure and services so they are firing,” Mayor Van Styn added.

When releasing the Smart Cities Plan and the associated City Deals, it was clear that a strategy to grow regional cities was part of the plan.

In November last year, Assistant Minister for Cities, the Hon Angus Taylor announced that a competitive process for all regional cities to bid for the next round of City Deals would be released this year. Early signs, however, indicate that large cities will continue to be the focus of Australia’s cities policy.

“This sort of planning clearly undersells the value of regional Australia,” Mayor Van Styn said.

“If regional cities of all sizes can be supported to grow and turn the tide on Australia’s declining productivity, I have one question for the Australian Government,” he said.

“Where the bloody hell are ya? Cause we are ready to deal” Mayor Van Styn concluded.


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

Available for Interview
Mayor Shane Van Styn – Chair, Regional Capitals Australia