Senate votes to initiate historic Inquiry into Regional Capitals in Australia

The Senate's Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee will hold an inquiry into the future role and contribution of regional capitals to Australia, with the report due by 1 December 2015.

Greens Senator for Tasmania, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson said, "In this parliament we spend a lot of time developing policy for big cities and quite a bit of time on rural policies, especially relating to agriculture, but we spend no time at all on the special needs of the unique middle-sized cities dotted around our country.

"Regional capitals, like Launceston or Ballarat or Orange, are blessed with unique challenges and opportunities, and this Inquiry provides the Senate with an opportunity to investigate how we can craft policy specifically to cater for their needs.

"The Inquiry will investigate what policies governments could pursue to help these cities thrive and relieve some of the pressure on the larger metropolises," he said.

Among the issues to be explored are:

  1. an assessment of current demographic trends and the changing role of regional capitals;
  2. an analysis of current funding provided to regional capitals;
  3. an analysis of the benefit of additional funding regional capitals could receive based on population, demand for services and their strategic importance for the region, state or country;
  4. investment challenges and opportunities to maintain or grow regional capitals, including infrastructure, community and human services, communications and natural resources;
  5. incentives and policy measures that would support sustainable growth in regional capitals;
  6. the impact the changing environment will have on regional capitals; and
  7. any other related matters.