Regional centres carry their weight for the economy
As seen in The Land, 26 June, 2017
Regional cities have been saddled with an unnecessary bad rap – they are actually generating as many jobs as the city and growing just as fast.
That’s according to a major report on the performance of Australian regional cities released by the Regional Australia Institute (RAI).
It found jobs participation and productivity are almost exactly the same as Australia’s big cities. According to report author Dr Leonie Pearson it’s “nonsense” that people have a lesser chance of finding jobs in regional and country areas.
“The RAI’s latest work confirms that city population size does not determine economic performance. There is no statistical difference between the economic performance of Australia’s big five metro cities and its 31 regional cities in terms of historical output, productivity and participation rate,” Dr Pearson said.
NSW regional cities though were lagging a bit behind Victorian and Queensland regional centres of growth. NSW centres were more likely to be “strong and steady” rather than showing high growth – but they are not far behind. The powerhouse regional areas in NSW were Wagga Wagga, Albury-Wodonga, Tamworth, Ballina-Lismore and the Tweed-Gold Coast.
Dr Pearson says though that recent announcements in the NSW budget and inland rail will give a significant boost to NSW centres. Billions of dollars pinpointed for regional NSW in the NSW Budget will help cities build for the future, building on their strengths. She said getting the fundamentals of water and power supply was important and the right way to go, but the government must not lose sight of making regional centres exciting and liveable. She said people need to stop thinking regional cities needed “help”, they were performing just as well as the city in many areas.
“Contrary to popular opinion, regional cities generate national economic growth and jobs at the same rate as big metropolitan cities,” she said. “They are worthy of economic investment in their own right, not just on social and equity grounds.
“However, for regional cities to be ready to capture their $378 billion output potential to 2031, immediate action is needed. Success will see regional cities in 2031 produce twice as much as all the new economy industries produce in today’s metropolitan cities.”
Regional cities had a 83 per cent Gross Value Added (GVA) rate compared to the city, 98 per cent participation rate compared to the city, and 91 per cent of the productivity rate of the city, the report found. Australian regional centres were also vastly outperforming regional centres in the United Kingdom.
Dr Pearson said smaller towns would not miss out on the growth in regional economies with access to the internet giving them a head-start to stay alive.