Regional capitals key to sustainable population and productivity growth

Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, the Hon Jamie Briggs (centre) with Regional Capitals Australia Board members. (L-R): Mayor Ian Carpenter, City of Greater Geraldton; Bruce Anson, Warrnambool City Council; Patience Harrington, City of Wodonga; Ald Albert van Zetten, Launceston City Council; Assistant Minister Briggs; Mayor Deirdre Comerford, RCA Chair and Mayor of Mackay Regional Council; Cr Mathew Dickerson, Dubbo City Council; Cr Michael Fraser, City of Wodonga; Phil Pinyon, Wagga Wagga City Council

Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, the Hon Jamie Briggs (centre) with Regional Capitals Australia Board members.

(L-R): Mayor Ian Carpenter, City of Greater Geraldton; Bruce Anson, Warrnambool City Council; Patience Harrington, City of Wodonga; Ald Albert van Zetten, Launceston City Council; Assistant Minister Briggs; Mayor Deirdre Comerford, RCA Chair and Mayor of Mackay Regional Council; Cr Mathew Dickerson, Dubbo City Council; Cr Michael Fraser, City of Wodonga; Phil Pinyon, Wagga Wagga City Council

Regional Capitals Australia (RCA), today highlighted how more targeted infrastructure investment in Australia’s 50 regional capitals can ease the squeeze in metropolitan cities, and boost regional Australia’s growth.  

Joined by Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, the Hon. Jamie Briggs, and 75 leaders from regional capitals, RCA Chair, Mayor Deirdre Comerford drew on the alliance’s submission into the Senate Inquiry on The future role and contribution of regional capitals to Australia to highlight the need for additional national funding to grow regional capitals. 

Mayor Comerford also highlighted a recent report released by Infrastructure Australia which estimated that growing congestion will cost Australians $53 billion by 2031. 

“These congestion figures are quite alarming and it is only going to get worse with Australia’s population predicted to grow to 40 million over the next 50 years; the four largest cities could even grow by 45 per cent in just over 15 years. 

“The time for a rethink is now – through our submission to the Senate Inquiry we have made a clear call to action – our national leaders must take a good look at the potential that sits outside the urban growth boundaries of our capital cities – and commit to sustainably growing our regional capitals. 

“Regional capitals are already the key to successful regions – our cities are home to four million people, and also support an additional four million residents in surrounding areas who depend on these cities for their jobs, infrastructure, hospitals, education and other essential social infrastructure. 

“What is less well known is that we are also important contributors to regional Australia and our nation. Each year $225 billion is generated in our 50 cities and with the right investment this figure can only grow.” 

Despite their sizeable potential, there is currently a lack of consistent investment in regional capitals infrastructure, a key policy gap that Regional Capitals Australia is trying to address.  

“What we need is infrastructure funding that targets the areas of greatest return: regional capitals. This sort of strategic investment will be more effective than just funnelling money into the areas around capital cities to try to cope with current congestion. 

“The economic analysis in our recent submission proves that regional capitals absolutely deserve a place in national policy, and achieving that recognition is the number one goal for Regional Capitals Australia,” said Cr Comerford. 

“In the coming months, we will release our federal election platform, and our member councils will be actively highlighting our recommendations to their local members.” 

RCA’s submission into the Senate Inquiry can be viewed here. All other submissions are available here.