The Regional Australia Institute (RAI) is calling on Australian leaders across society to seize the opportunity created by COVID to shape a truly equitable, sustainable, and prosperous nation.
Mt Gambier and surrounds has had one of the highest rates of net annual migration of anywhere in Australia.
Speaking at the RAI’s Regions Rising event in Wodonga last Friday, RAI CEO Liz Ritchie said more Australians than ever have been voting with their feet on the type of future they want – more time, more space, more connection to community and to nature. All the things regional Australia has to offer.
“The time for regionalisation is now! We can rebalance the nation away from a future of megacities by ensuring that regional residents and communities have access to the resources and services they need to reach their full potential. Only then, can we as a nation reach ours,” Liz Ritchie said.
“Forget the global buzz around the so-called Great Resignation with workers around the world rethinking their jobs – it’s the Great Regionalisation which could truly shake up Australia’s future for the better,” Ms Ritchie said.
Senator the Hon Bridget McKenzie, in her first keynote national address as Regionalisation Minister on Friday, told the audience that she’d like to see half of Australia’s future population growth occur in the regions.
The Minister said regionalisation offers an alternative path to the rising congestion, bottlenecked infrastructure, skyrocketing house prices and longer commutes to work in our capital cities.
Ms Ritchie welcomed the Minister’s commitment to the regions, noting that regional Australia continues to set new records, with a net annual migration gain of 45,000 people in the year to March 2021 and a record 71,000 jobs on offer.
“Now is the time to invest in our regional towns and cities and to give Australians what they are clamouring for – a real choice in how, and where, they live,” Ms Ritchie said.
“To do this, we need a cohesive national framework for regional development and growth – one that is created through broad consultation and supported across the political spectrum,” Liz Ritchie said.
The Regional Australia Institute – which has provided research, analysis and independent advice to the country’s policy makers, businesses and regional communities over the past decade – is working on a draft framework to be released at its Regions Rising National Summit in June 2022.
“We know the government will set the direction and lay the building blocks and that groups such as the
National Farmers Federation and Business Council of Australia are also firmly focused on the importance of our regions,” Ms Ritchie said.
"But this change is not up to government alone. We want to work with all interested parties, including corporate Australia through our Regional Australia Council 2031, and regional communities themselves, to ensure we make the most of this regional renaissance and that it is here to stay,” Ms Ritchie said.