Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

Regional Capital Status; Why It's Good to Get a Better Deal for Cities

Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

Regional Capital Status; Why It's Good to Get a Better Deal for Cities

Article excerpt

Byline: Shane Van Styn Geraldton mayor and chairman of Regional Capitals Australia

THE Turnbull Government has now released its much-anticipated Smart Cities Plan pitched at making sure our nation's cities are more liveable, accessible and productive.

This is the first time a national plan talks about creating long-term investment in regional capital cities. Considering the impact of these cities, this shift is a welcome and timely advancement.

Combined, regional capital cities have a population of more than four million people - the size of Australia's largest cities, Sydney or Melbourne.

Regional capital cities also support an additional four million people living in surrounding towns and rural areas. This means that one-third of Australians rely on a thriving regional capital city for their every day needs.

Regional capital cities are growing, many faster than the national average. Karratha had one of the fastest growth spurts for a regional capital city in the past five years at 18.3% and is expected to grow nearly 45% in the next 20 years.

In 15 years, Townsville is expected to add an additional 91,000-plus people to its population - the equivalent of adding a population the size of Rockhampton.

All cities that work are enormous economic assets and play a vital role in building a strong economy. As the nation's $53 billion congestion bill spirals out of control, it is clear Australia needs a solution that moves past the big five city bias that historically has been engrained in our national leadership.

The evidence that this is the right path was recently highlighted when the Regional Australia Institute stated that for every 100,000 Australians who choose to live in regional capital cities instead of the five big cities, approximately $50 billion will be released into the national economy over 30 years in reduced congestion costs. …

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