Senate looks at potential and challenges of regional centres

THE Senate is set to investigate the potential of Australia's big regional centres, and the challenges facing them, in an inquiry launched this week.

Led by Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, the Senate inquiry will run until December this year.

It will examine regional demographics, funding, services, investment and the future of "regional capitals".

Sen Whish-Wilson said the parliament spent a lot of time developing policies for capital cities and rural areas, but "we spend no time at all on the special needs of the unique middle-sized cities dotted around our country".

He said the inquiry was a chance for the Senate to investigate how federal parliament could better craft policy for regional cities.

The inquiry was launched after a push from Regional Capitals Australia, a coalition of councils and 26 regional cities including Mackay in central Queensland.

RCA chairman and Wagga Wagga Mayor Rod Kendall said population growth in regional capitals was outpacing the national average and in 10 years there would be an extra 10 million people living in such cities.

"This investigation aims to further uncover the need for the Federal Government to recognise the potential, as well as current barriers to productivity, of regional capitals," he said.

The RCA defines "regional capitals" as a city outside a state metropolitan urban growth boundary, which provides a "capital city" function for its local residents, surrounding towns and rural areas.

The inquiry is now open for submissions, until April 30 this year, and is expected to report in December.


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