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Regional Capitals Australia Response to Federal Budget 2018

Regional Capitals Australia (RCA) has welcomed initiatives within the Federal Budget 2018.

RCA Chair, Mayor Shane Van Styn stated the budget included important big-ticket items such as significant road investments across regional Australia and new health initiatives.

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RCA welcomes announcement of Regional Telecommunications Review

We welcome Senator Bridget McKenzie’s announcement of a regional telecommunications review that will examine the telecommunications services available in regional capitals, along with rural and remote areas.

The review will examine the affect and opportunities associated with rapidly evolving technologies on regional communications.

This is an important review, as regional capitals need to be connected to other regions and to the world.

The Committee will call for submissions shortly and will visit regional and rural areas later in the year for public consultation, with their report to government due  at the end of September 2018.

Chair’s op-ed: Infrastructure Priority List Confirms Big City Bias for a Big Australia 

The new Infrastructure Australia 2018 Priority List was released this month with $55 billion worth of ‘nation shaping’ projects.

Of these, 6 are listed as High Priority Projects, 6 are Priority Projects, 24 High Priority Initiatives, and 60 Priority Initiatives. 4 were for projects that will affect regional capital cities.

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RCA Goes to Canberra

Pictured: Mayor Shane Van Styn – Mayor, City of Greater Geraldton (Chair), the Hon Dr John McVeigh (Minister for Regional Development, Territories and Local Government), Clr Col Murray – Mayor, Tamworth Regional Council (Deputy Chair), Paul Bennett – General Manager, Tamworth Regional Council, Cr Greg Conkey – Mayor, Wagga Wagga City Council, Mayor Peter Long – Mayor, City of Karratha, Cr Margaret Strelow – Mayor, Rockhampton Regional Council, Damon Morrison – Executive Coordinator, Rockhampton Regional Council.

On Wednesday, March 28 and Thursday March 29, a delegation of members form Regional Capitals Australia were in Canberra to meet with federal ministers and relevant advisors. Topics of discussion included regional development, infrastructure, regional communications and rural health. Topics of our pre-budget discussions included regional development, decentralisation and city deals, with a particular focus on decreasing the population threshold which currently restricts eligibility for city deals.

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Regional Cities Meet to Set the Agenda

This week, local councils met in Geelong to set the agenda on growth across Australia’s regional cities.

The annual Regional Capitals Australia planning day held in the City of Greater Geelong’s Town Hall and was attended by representatives from Ballarat, Geraldton, Coffs Harbour, Geelong, Latrobe, Shepparton and Griffith.

Members were also able to present an overview of each of their cities to the board and discuss the ‘number 1’ priority project for their municipality, before breaking into groups for a range of workshops covering strategic direction and regional development.

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Regional Growth Fund Now Open

Today, the Hon Dr John McVeigh MP, Minister for Regional Development, Territories and Local Government, released guidelines and opened applications for the $272.2 million Regional Growth Fund.

Regional Capitals Australia (RCA) Chairman, Mayor Shane Van Styn welcomed today’s announcement, stating the fund will ensure regional capital cities have new resources to meet the ongoing challenges of growth.

“We would also like to congratulate the government on listening to the regions by expanding the fund’s eligibility beyond regions undergoing structural adjustment, we all have transformational projects that will contribute to Australia’s economic growth,” Mayor Shane Van Styn said.

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Regional Investment Corporation Passes Senate

Legislation for the federal government’s Regional Investment Corporation (RIC) has been passed by the Senate this week, 33 to 31 thanks to crossbench support – the federal government is planning for the RIC to launch from July 30, 2018.

The RIC is expected to be based in Orange, a key inclusion in the federal government’s departmental decentralisation policy with 25 new jobs brought to the area. A minister-appointed board will make the final judgement call on the location, due to the ALP’s amendments aimed at increasing transparency within the RIC.

The RIC was a commitment made by the Coalition as part of the 2016 Federal Election. The RIC Board will be a corporate Commonwealth entity consisting of a part-time Chairperson and two-to-four board members. The role of the Board will be to ensure that the RIC functions in an efficient and effective manner.

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Chair’s Op-ed: Level crossings remove one minute from daily commute

Data revealed by The Age on time savings for Victoria’s level crossing removal program, calls for a rethink on how Australian infrastructure projects are prioritised.

Despite $8.3 billion being invested into the level crossing removal scheme, it seems the removal of these crossings has shaved an average of just one minute off peak-hour commutes. How this chips away at Melbourne’s spiralling congestion costs, estimated to be $4.6 billion each year, is puzzling.

All of this begs two simple questions: as a nation have we reached a tipping point for our big cities? And, if we are aiming to protect our envied way of life, is now the time for a new plan?

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Chair’s Op-ed: Geelong City Plan Announcement Recognises Importance of Regional Capitals

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.

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