The Australia Local Government has released the 2012-13 State of the Regions Report, concluding that a new approach to regional development is urgently needed to address the growing inequality across the country’s regions.


Exacerbated by the mining boom and consequent patchwork economy, the report warns that many regions, particularly those in the non-mining states, risk being left behind as specific areas of the economy gain pace.


The report includes economic analysis of every local government area in Australia. It identifies Western Australia and its regions as clear winners from the boom, along with some of the regions in Queensland and News South Wales, and highlights negative impacts in other states and regions.


Leading Economist and co-author, Dr Peter Brain says a necessary first step to rethinking regional development to encourage equality across local government areas in Australia is the establishment of an independent Commission of Inquiry into the issue.


“If the Inquiry concluded that non-mining regions have been adversely impacted due to ineffective planning for regional development, we would have a catalyst to start the process for a productive redesign of regional planning in Australia,” Dr Brain said.


“During the past 30 years, there has been insufficient investment in regional development in Australia and the findings of the Report reinforce the need for a system of dedicated funds to flow into local infrastructure projects.


President of the Australian Local Government Association, Genia McCaffery says the Report explores new ways of thinking about regional development and investment to drive jobs, real wages and regional productivity.


“Local governments need to be involved in decisions concerning Commonwealth investment in regional infrastructure and development. This Report provides local governments with the facts and figures required for making decisions regarding their local industries and regional economies,” Mayor McCaffery said.


“This Report is essential reading for policy makers and politicians interested in regional development and equality."