President’s column

Will you be attending this year’s local government Assembly and Regional Forum in just over a week?

One of the highlights of this year’s Regional Forum will once again be the launch of the State of the Regions report, which draws on the latest data and analysis to describe the performance of Australia’s regions.

I can tell you from the data we've received from this year’s report that it will paint a picture of the importance of opportunities for human interaction in our communities: in our offices, labs, cafes, shops, schools and recreational facilities, where highly-skilled knowledge workers such as scientists and engineers can connect. The report will explain that when these chances to connect happen, productivity increases to the benefit of the region as a whole.

Councils play a core role in providing these collaborative spaces, places and facilities and the data from the report further fuels our argument that our sector needs sufficient support and resources to properly maintain community infrastructure and services – this not only benefits the residents in our communities but it plays an important role in our regional and national economy.

Another key message I could see emerging from this year’s report is the need for non-metro regions – those at the fringes of metropolitan areas as well as those more remote – to have a strong connection with the knowledge economy of a metropolitan city in order to achieve on par growth, or risk rising inequality. This highlights that, even in this modern, technologically-connected age, geography still matters. Advocacy on behalf of our non-metro regions has become paramount and we need to ensure that fair and fit-for-purpose initiatives and programs are made available to our regional and remote communities.

Strong communities with good services and infrastructure can attract and retain the brightest minds and skills needed to grow a regional economy, as well as offset the risk of the increasing inequalities between metro and non-metro regions. The drivers of this inequality will be an interesting part of the Q&A panel discussion at the Regional Forum and I look forward to hearing more from the report authors, together with panelists from AusIndustry and the Regional Australia Institute, about the findings in this year’s report.

It’s not too late to register to the Regional Forum and National General Assembly, just use this link.


Mayor David O’Loughlin

 ALGA President