Advocates are pushing for a ‘great regionalisation’ in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Regional Australia Institute (RAI) is calling on Australian leaders to seize new opportunities that it says could shape a truly equitable, sustainable, and prosperous nation. 

“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,” RAI chief Liz Ritchie says.

“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 Bridget McKenzie spoke at the same event, giving her first keynote national address as Regionalisation Minister.

She says half of Australia’s future population growth should occur in the regions.

Senator McKenzie said regionalisation offers an alternative path to the rising congestion, bottlenecked infrastructure, skyrocketing house prices and longer commutes to work in capital cities.

Regional Australia saw a record 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.”

She says that the Regional Australia Institute 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.”