RAI’s co-CEO, Dr Kim Houghton, said that the paper delivers a detailed action plan for government to ensure that population pressures are taken off major metropolitan areas and enables sustainable regional growth.
“Last year, we hit the 25 million mark which was two decades earlier than predicted and now is the time to place regional Australia into the mix to help solve our city congestion problems,” Dr Houghton said.
“Australian residents are showing that they want to live in regional areas, but to see further growth, we need to support communities to improve several factors, including liveability,” Dr Houghton said.
Key recommendations in the RAI paper include:
Rebalancing of national and state infrastructure spending to enhance liveability in regional centres;
The need for further analysis of the economic impacts of increasing urbanisation focusing on cities only;
Targeted programs to support economic diversification and jobs in slow growing regional areas;
Improvements in education and training to help workers living in regional areas with high workforce demands – ‘fill vacancies from within’; and
Removing barriers to secondary migration of international migrants wanting to relocate to regional areas, and funding to support community initiatives to assist with the successful settlement of migrants.
According to the RAI, over the next 40 years, as it stands, future population growth will mainly occur in the outer suburbs, rather than in the inner cities or regions. Outer suburban Sydney, Melbourne and Perth populations will more than double and Brisbane is forecast to triple.
“Yet we know from our research that average incomes of workers in regional cities and outer city suburbs are comparable. However, commute times and housing prices are vastly different.