Keys to regional prosperity handed to the people
The competitiveness of Australia’s regions was revealed for the first time with the launch of [In]Sight – a tool that enable’s everyone to understand how their local area is performing and take control of their future.
Developed in collaboration with Deloitte Access Economics, [In]Sight is an online index and interactive map, which ranks Australia’s 560 Local Government Areas (LGA) and 55 Regional Development Australia (RDA) regions across ten themes.
Fifty-nine indicators within these themes capture the underlying drivers of sustainable growth in Australia, ranging from unemployment, proximity to major infrastructure, internet connectivity, natural assets and small business income.
Unlike conventional indices, all of the data underpinning [In]Sight is freely available for access and use by regional communities, government, businesses, researchers and investors. It has been specifically developed to bridge the gap between knowledge, debate and decision-making for the future of regional Australia.
“Never before have we had this depth of information on regional economies available at our fingertips,” CEO of the RAI Su McCluskey said. “[In]Sight enables us not just to understand what the strengths and weaknesses of Australia’s individual regions are, but how they stand up nationally.”
“All of Australia’s regions have the potential for positive growth and change,” she said. “We can now shift away from making decisions about regional Australia in a vacuum, to developing properly informed, localised approaches to development.”
Findings from [In]Sight reveal that improving the level of health, education, access to new technologies and investment in research and development are the most pressing challenges to building economic performance in Australia.
These have emerged as the key areas that give any region in Australia, whatever their size, location or other competitive advantages, the ability to respond to changes in markets and grow over time. But it is also within these crucial areas that some of the biggest inequities can be found, with clear disparity between Australia’s metropolitan and regional areas.
“For too long, Australia has been missing out on opportunities to tap regional potential,” Ms McCluskey said. “[In]Sight provides the evidence we need to transform the future of regional Australia – for the good of all Australia.”
THE THREE THEMES OF COMPETITIVENESS DRIVING SUSTAINABLE GROWTH
Human Capital: A healthier and better-educated workforce increases competitiveness
Regions with strong Human Capital – a measure of the capabilities and skills of a regions workforce – tend to experience higher levels of economic growth, and are more adaptive, innovative and resilient to negative outside influences. Among non-metropolitan LGAs for each state and territory, Armidale Dumaresq (NSW), Queenscliffe (VIC), Mount Baker (SA), Capel (WA), Townsville (QLD), Kingborough (TAS) and Alice Springs (NT) are the highest performing areas in the Human Capital theme. As the Australian Capital Territory is both an LGA and a major capital city, it cannot be ranked according to this criteria.
However, there is substantial inequality in the competitiveness of Human Capital nation-wide, which is a clear strength in metropolitan and inner regional areas, but less so in outer regional and remote Australia.
Innovation: Creating a comparative advantage that benefits surrounding regions
[In]Sight’s Innovation theme is based on a number of indicators, including the percentage of human resources in science and technology and business expenditure on research and a development, and reflects a region’s availability of and openness to new approach and ideas. The highest ranking non-metropolitan LGAs for Innovation in each state and territory included Armidale Dumaresq (NSW), Buloke (Vic), Mount Gambier (SA), Carnarvon (WA), Cook (Qld), Kingborough (Tas), and Litchfield (NT).
Substantial gains can be made in regions where innovative activities are not ranked as highly and where little publicly-funded innovation is taking place.
Technological Readiness: Unleashing talent and connecting regional areas
A region’s level of Technological Readiness is vital to attracting new businesses and investment. This theme is measured by the percentage of households and businesses with internet and broadband connections, businesses in technology related industries and workers in ICT and electronics.
Palerang (NSW), Macedon Ranges (Vic), Mount Barker (SA), Capel (WA), Townsville (Qld), Kingborough (Tas), and Alice Springs (NT) are the nation’s highest ranking non-metropolitan LGAs for each state and territory.
The availability of a National Broadband Network will improve the productivity and transform industries in regional Australia. The extent to which regional communities capitalise on this through effective ICT development will determine the level of catch-up growth that occurs as a result of this new technology.
[In]Sight was developed in collaboration with Deloitte Access Economics and is modelled on the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report.
Data sources for [In]Sight include the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Social Health Atlas of Australia, Geographical Information Systems calculations, My Schools website and the Regional Australia Institute’s survey of Regional Business Conditions and Perspectives on Regional Development.