More action needed to help struggling rural and remote regions innovate

The core driver of Australia’s long-term economic growth will be innovation and struggling rural and remote regions are being left behind, according to a report launched at the Regional Cooperation and Development Forum in Canberra today.

State of the Regions 2018-19: Trade, Jobs, Growth and Inequality, the 21st edition of the report prepared by National Economics for the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA), reveals that innovation in Australia is typically undertaken by ‘knowledge workers’ who are currently concentrated in Australia’s metropolitan capitals and inner cities.

Dr Peter Brain, leading economist and co-author of the report said that the research found knowledge workers tended to concentrate in regions where there was a wide variety of cultural and lifestyle choices.

“Productivity and innovation happening in the inner cities are boosted by opportunities for human interaction, not only in offices and laboratories but also in cafes, shops, schools and recreational facilities. These interactions occur most intensively when they are within walking distance of each other,” he said.

“When these chances to connect happen, productivity increases and this benefits the region as a whole.”

The President of ALGA, Mayor David O’Loughlin, said it was clear from the report that more action is needed to help set up the right conditions to boost all of Australia’s regions.

“The three tiers of government must work together to address the infrastructure deficiencies that are making it difficult for the hinterlands to increase their productivity and grow their knowledge economies,” he said.

“Further infrastructure support, particularly telecommunications, transport, community and cultural infrastructure, will help attract knowledge workers and their families to rural and remote regions. This will help to create the conditions that will build new economic opportunities and resilient, intelligent communities.

“As well as helping plug infrastructure gaps, local government also has an important role in facilitating low-key investment so that every town’s main street becomes the cultural and connectivity-magnet needed to attract and retain the knowledge economy.

“Our rural and remote regions are not sharing in the success and prosperity, in relative terms, of the metropolitan capitals and we need policies, strategies and investment that will bring innovation to these regions and help them link into the prosperity of their larger counterparts.”


Media: Please get in touch for access to the full State of the Regions report.