GREATER recognition of regional Australia is vital to handle a looming food exports “dining boom”, Warrnambool’s mayor Michael Neoh said after attending a national conference as a key Victorian delegate.
Cr Neoh is on the Regional Capitals Australia executive board as chairman of Regional Cities Victoria, which is a lobby group for state funding.
“If we can provide a strong voice nationally as the Victorian group does in its state role then the federal government will give us due recognition,” he said.
“In terms of economic growth, regional areas are among the fastest-growing sectors in Australia.
“A majority of exports for primary products and commodities are from regional areas and there needs to be greater recognition of this.
“The mining boom peak has been and now the dining boom has been flagged.
“Dairy production plays a major role in this.”
Cr Neoh said it would be important to get more consultation with the federal government to ensure criteria for funding was suitable for regional areas.
“The Victorian model where regional cities are at the forefront of state policy is being replicated across Australia,” he said.
Regional Cities Australia chairman Rod Kendall, of Wagga Wagga, said more than 15 per cent of the nation’s GDP was generated in regional areas.
“If we don’t want a two-speed economy we need to be careful not to invest in major metropolitan and regional capitals as though it’s a two-sector nation,” he said.