Senate Inquiry coming to Geraldton

In October a Senate Inquiry into the future role and contribution of regional capitals to Australia will be coming to Geraldton to see first and hear firsthand how our highly diversified City region contributes to the Australian economy.

The decision for the Senate Inquiry to come to Geraldton on 27 October follows a recent address Regional Capitals Australia (RCA) made to Federal Senate Inquiry in Geelong.

RCA Chair Mayor Deirdre Comerford told Senators regional capitals jointly generate $225 billion per annum, or more than 15 per cent of national economic activity, yet there is no consistent national policy dedicated to lift the productivity and liveability of regional capitals.

Delivering the opening set of evidence at the first round of public hearings at this significant Senate inquiry, Mayor Comerford called for additional Federal funding to grow Australia’s 50 regional capitals.

"The time for a rethink is now. RCA has 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 home to almost four million people and service the needs of a total of eight million Australians who live in surrounding areas.  Just over one-third of Australians rely on having a socially thriving regional capital to meet their everyday needs.

“Many people are drawn to the lifestyle and affordability offered by regional capitals and 25 per cent of these centres are growing faster than the national average, with one million additional people projected to live in a regional capital in less than ten years,” she said.

Mayor Comerford told the Inquiry Australia’s four biggest cities are projected to grow in population by about 45 per cent by 2031, adding to social and infrastructure pressures; not only can regional capitals relieve some of this pressure and ease the squeeze, they can also increase output, further boosting national productivity gains.

City of Greater Geraldton Mayor and Deputy President of Regional Capitals Australia, Ian Carpenter, said the City region relies on five industries which account for 50% of employment and contributes greatly to national productivity.

“In contrast to other regions in Western Australia where many shires rely predominantly on one or two industries, five industries in the Mid West account for 50% of employment: construction; retail; agriculture forestry and fishing; health care and social assistance; and mining underscoring a diversified local economy that certainly contributes to Australia.”

“The City of Greater Geraldton plays a critical role in the future prosperity of the nation and can only do so with the support of national policies that aim to lift the productivity, population and liveability of these key centres,” Mayor Carpenter said.

The Regional Capitals Australia alliance believes federal government policies must focus on providing infrastructure for better economic outcomes and social amenity; access to communications for better domestic and international connectivity; and education and skills development, that lead to jobs of the future and ensuring that no-one gets left behind.

“Although the RCA continues to advocate for better policy and investment to meet the challenges facing the nation, the City has lobbied hard to get the Senate Inquiry to visit our City and see and hear for themselves exactly how our City region is contributing to Australia as a whole.

“To ensure the Senate Inquiry receives the information it needs we are encouraging local organisations to prepare submissions on the issues of our City region that can be submitted during the visit,” said Mayor Carpenter.