Federal inquiry urges greater focus on regional development

Regional growth and development must be given higher priority to secure Australia’s future prosperity, a new federal parliamentary report has found.

To that end, the House of Representatives Select Committee on Regional Australia has advised the Australian government to develop a nationwide regional development plan focused on current and future infrastructure needs.

The committee’s Pride of Place report also urges the Australian government to establish a dedicated authority to develop and implement appropriate policies and programs, including a national population policy.

The Australian Local Government’s (ALGA) submission to the inquiry recommended increased Commonwealth support for regional transport and digital infrastructure and local government programs encouraging migrant settlement to the regions.

The committee’s report and its 13 recommendations highlight the ongoing value of the regions to Australia and the need to ensure the different levels of government work together and with the public, private, non-profit and community sectors to establish a nationally consistent regional development plan.

Committee chair Tony Pasin said the COVID-19 pandemic, bushfires, floods, and droughts had made the past two years an extremely challenging time, particularly for people in regional areas.

“It’s imperative that we continuously seek to improve the lives of regional Australians by investing in better infrastructure, connectivity and services in regional areas,” Mr Pasin said.

“Prioritising the development and growth of regional Australia is essential for Australia’s future, not only to fulfill our food, fibre and energy requirements but also to ensure the continued prosperity and sustainability of our nation,” Mr Pasin said.