Regional Capitals Australia (RCA) recently presented a submission to the Standing Economics Reference Committee into the indicators of, and impact of, regional inequality in Australia.
The submission aimed to provide the Australian government with the basis for a proactive regional development investment and policy framework that will grow regional capital cities, whilst also addressing two of Australia’s challenges impacting the nation’s ability to achieve balanced economic and social outcomes:
- the congestions in major metropolitan cities; and
- the continuation of access to services and infrastructure in small rural towns.
The framework is based on the Regional Australia Institute’s report Regional City Hubs and Hinterland Spokes: A national network supporting Australia’s regional development which showed that regional capital cities (hubs) are connected to their smaller rural towns (hinterland spokes) through a network of roads, jobs and essential services.
It is the position of RCA that there is no place for passive strategy, policy or investments when attempting to deal with Australia’s population distribution problem.
The rapid growth of metropolitan cities and the decline of our smaller rural towns does not have to be a fait accompli – by creating proactive policy solutions, Australia’s regional capital cities can lessen the population congestion being felt by the metropolitan cities, while also supporting the rural towns as they struggle with population decline.
Regional Capitals Australia made a number of recommendations, including:
- The Committee recommend the Government undertake further mapping of the service ‘hub’ role of all regional capital cities across a range of policy areas to identify successful investment models;
- Highlight the importance of prioritising the delivery of the Government’s regional city stream of City Deals to regional capital cities.
- Increase the number of regional cities to be measured under the National Cities Performance Framework to 51 – to align with the objectives of the Smart Cities Plan and to enable regional city deals to be measured.